Friday, September 23, 2016

French Country: Natural Fall Foyer

I like to keep my seasonal decor simple and natural 
so adding a few fall touches to the foyer is uncomplicated and easy.

Next to the foyer stairs, I fashion an autumnal gathering of small white pumpkins, an antler,
walnuts, acorns and a candle on an old ironstone plate.

An element I love to incorporate in a fall display is antlers -- nature's own sculpture. 
Bleached white and worn smooth, sheds add a striking touch to the fall foyer.

They remind me of the elk rutting season in the fall when these magnificent animals bugle in mountain meadows, strutting and flirting shamelessly with their harem of twenty or so
love-struck females. It's a thrill I never tire of.
And the girls probably don't either!

We recently flushed a huge bull elk from the bushes while we were hiking. 
It trotted down a steep hill and up the other side, leaping effortlessly over a fence like Baryshnikov. Believe me, a mature bull elk is a LOT bigger than a deer!

Finding a natural shed lying on the ground in the mountains is so exciting. 
Antlers grow back each year and the animals aren't hurt in the process.

Inside, they can be used on a mantle or in a basket or simply resting on a coffee table.

I like to tuck them into a French market basket with a thick orange scarf

or a flower bucket filled with lavender.
It's an unexpected fall touch without the usual orange pumpkins and fall-colored leaves.

A single candle on a tall wrought iron stand completes this simple vignette.

Replacing my summery straw hats with a tweed cap 
and some old binoculars on an antique hall tree rounds out this fall design -- 
a sure sign that summer is over.

I love the outdoorsy feeling that boots lend to a space, especially by the front door. 
Makes me want to grab a jacket and go for a walk in the crisp air, crunching through the fallen leaves and . . .

. . . keeping an eye out for amorous elk looking for romance!


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Friday, September 16, 2016

French Inspired Ottoman Overhaul

Here's another treasure from my "Ethan Alley" Collection!

I lugged the big ottoman down our alley wondering whether it was worth it. 
Someone had just put it outside for trash pick up. It seemed to be in pretty sad shape 
with a shapeless tan slipcover and that brown speckled finish on the legs that I don't like.

But those legs were curvy and it was a nice size. 
It seemed to have a solid frame, looked clean and the price was certainly right.  

When I got it home, I tore off the slipcover and discovered a pink tapestry cover 
ripped in several places as if two cats had gotten into a shredding competition 
on it. I thought I'd just pull out a few staples to see what I was working with.

Ha!  It must have had 500 staples holding that fabric in place. 
And when I finally got one side free of staples, I saw several more layers under the tapestry. 
A strip of cardboard stapled to the frame, a piping cord border stapled to the top, 
a spring with a torn gray fabric stapled over it, and a layer of white wispy stuff over the cushion. 
All of it stapled securely to the frame.

It certainly was well made.

But I like a challenge. 
My tools were three flathead screwdrivers of varying sizes, a needlenose pliers, and 
a staple remover. Soon my empty deli container was full of staples and 
my palm was aching from pushing the screwdriver under all those staples.

When I finally got the tapestry off and could take a good look at the ottoman, 
I realized I didn't have a clue how to reupholster it. Because of the springs, it wasn't a simple "unscrew the top, staple on a new cover and screw it back on" situation.

Then the weirdest thing happened. 
When I removed the gray fabric covering the springs, I saw some writing. 
And it was my name!!! How weird is that. Meant to be, I guess.

I decided to remove the bumpers around the edge just to simplify things. 
Once I got all of the staples out, I sanded the wood frame 
then gave it two coats of cream-colored paint.

Next, I decided to cut the new fabric (Lowe's drop cloth) to size and play around with it until 
I figured out what I was doing. I stapled the middle of all four sides and worked my way out.

It was going fine until I got to the corners.
What to do with all that bunched-up fabric? 
I fiddled with it and trimmed it until it fit, tucked it under and stapled it together.

Whew! That was close.

I then attached some burlap ribbon around the edge of the fabric to conceal the staples using upholstery tacks. But every single tack bent when I hammered it into the hard wood. 

Ron came to the rescue with a great idea. 
He trimmed the points down to make the tacks shorter and they went right in and, 
would you believe it, stayed in place!

I revived this old beat-up ottoman destined for the landfill for only $2.47 for the tacks. 
Everything else we had on hand. 
Not bad for a beautiful piece of furniture and perfect for the guest room.

Another lovely creation from the "Ethan Alley" Collection.


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French Country Cottage

Friday, September 9, 2016

French Country: Simple Ideas for Fall!

Fall is all about adding warmth and comfort to your home.
As temperatures dive in the high country and snow dusts the mountaintops here in Colorado,
autumn is easing on down to the foot of the Rockies. 
It won't be long before the days are shorter, the nights cooler and the aspen leaves turn to gold.

Whether it's bringing the outdoors in or taking your decor outside, 
autumn is a wonderful time of year to give your home a little love.

The great thing about seasonal decorating is
you don't have to re-do the whole house (unless you want to). 
Just adding a few touches of the season here and there is all it takes to celebrate the change.

For instance, my dining room table gets a seasonal boost with a basket of green apples. 
Baskets or old galvanized buckets make great containers to hold fall accessories.

Incorporating various finishes such as silver, dried flowers and straw-wrapped wine bottles,
is the key to fall decorating, bringing nature's warmth and textures indoors. 

Natural materials like branches, pine cones or bleached antlers 
are easy ways to accessorize with the season. 

A mini-makeover in the living room takes the mantel from summer to fall with the addition 
of some vintage books, a few dried hydrangeas and an old clock in a cloche.

Add some natural materials and a change in color palette and autumn arrives in the guest room.

In my little kitchen's only window, I switch out my summery white lace curtain panels 
for a farmhouse valance. The autumnal golds and reds bring a bit of warmth to the kitchen 
and the roosters crow to come on outside and enjoy the cooler temperatures.

A valance also lets in a lot more natural light than panels, a good idea as the days get shorter. 

Keep it simple.
The foyer is toned down with a single candle on a tall wrought iron candlestick,
a basket of branches, a velvety riding helmet and some knee-high boots.

To me, fall and horses just go together, whether it's in Colorado or the French countryside.
One of my favorite autumn memories is one late September day when I was taking riding lessons.
The mountain air was cool but the sun felt warm on my shoulders.
I entered an old barn, rich with horsey smells, sweet hay, leather tack and soft nickering.

I bring that fond memory back in my sunroom with a jean's jacket and a pair of cowboy boots. 
Time to turn on the gas fireplace and settle in here at the foot of the Rockies.

The nighttime air blows through my bedroom window, cool and crisp,
and that extra blanket on the bed is starting to feel pretty good.


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Shabby Art BoutiqueFrench Country Cottage

Friday, September 2, 2016

French Country: Comfy Corner for Early Fall

On these cool rainy last days of summer in Colorado, 
I find myself migrating to a corner in the sunroom of my old house.

I pull on a pair of thick socks onto summer-bare feet and curl up in the big comfy chair 
waiting for me. Deep, plush, warm. It surrounds me like a hug. 
I tuck a fluffy wrap around my legs and sip my chamomile tea, happy to have my chair back.

I rest my head against the back of the chair and remember when I loaned this chair and ottoman 
to a friend a few years ago. When she downsized, the chair came back home.

The velvety olive green fabric is luscious but I decide to put a flowery shabby chic linen slipcover, unearthed at a thrift store, over the chair and I love the change it makes.
Its muted colors seem to blur the lines between inside-outside.

I already had a floral lumbar pillow that fit in the chair perfectly. 
The checks and stripes work well in this farmhouse-style room.

I move a vintage floor lamp that had been in my guest room 
next to the chair for a good reading light. 

The latest magazines are hitting the newstands now 
and I stack several on the ottoman, eager to scour the pages for Fall design ideas.

The chair snugs into a comfy corner and faces a little gas stove. 
Still a little early to light it but it won't be long. (I hear it's snowing in the mountains!) 
Am I ready for this? No, no I'm not.

The old door I found in the alley and refinished claims the space next to the chair. Perfect. I love
the feel of salvaged pieces and how they transform a room with character and a timeless quality.

This room is cozy anytime of the day.
A warm wrap takes the chill off early mornings as Fall begins to touch Colorado.
My neighbor's aspen tree has a few golden leaves on it already
and red leaves of someone's maple tree float silently down to nestle among my plumbago.

I love the bank of windows in this room, welcoming the soft afternoon light.  I like to keep these windowsills bare so the focus is on the outdoors. It's a great spot for watching the birds in the feeder. Sometimes the chickadees will land on the window screen and peer inside the room.

Underneath these windows, I slide my recently painted bin and top it with clear mason jars. 
The western sun bounces around the room when it shines through these jars.

To soften the sunroom's French door, I hang a lacy curtain panel on it.
Securing it with thumb tacks makes it a snap to hang. 

The window sill above the stove holds a wire chicken feeder filled with vanilla candles,
making this room comfy and cozy as evening falls.

My little dog, Roxy, pads into the room on her mini-polar-bear paws and hops up into the chair. 
Turning around in endless circles, she finally approves her nest 
and settles down for a much-needed nap, snagging the warm spot where I'd been sitting. 

I think she's happy the chair has come home too.


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Friday, August 26, 2016

French Country: Putting the Rust in Rustic

Don't you love a scattering of rusty metal in the garden?
I know I do.
And the rustier, the better. 

A touch of rust makes your garden or patio feel like it's been there for ages,
steeped in history and patina. 

This vignette on my patio reminds me of stone houses in the south of France,
their walls dressed up in faded blues and sunny ochres with rusty accents.

Rust brings back fond memories of crusty French lampposts with old-world patina. 

This primitive well in the French countryside with its rusty pulley dates from Roman times.

In my garden, a rusty lantern and my Dad's old pitchfork lend an aura of days gone by.

My version of heavy metal!
A vintage fireplace coal grate creates a feeling of permanence on my patio.
Love the rusty ornamentation.
Won't it be pretty filled with orange mums this Fall?

A sweet rusty birdfeeder peeks through my salvia.

This planter with a glaze of rust and chippy paint . . . 

provides a perfect nest for this multi-colored verbena.

A metal fence dappled with rust defines the edge of the patio.

Most visitors to my garden think my wall fountain is rusty iron but it's actually lightweight fiberglass.

Rust gives this giant metal sunflower a warm patina. 
I found this one and its smaller twin at Goodwill hiding in the drapery rods!

This rusty headboard forms a unique sculpture against my garden shed. 
Soon it will be draped in purple morning glories. 

How cute is this inspiration from a neighborhood bistro? 
All kinds of metal containers were used for little plants wired onto this aged patio screen.
The owner told me she'd seen something similar in Saint-Remy-de-Provence.
I will have to try this next season so now I'm collecting rusty tins. 

Rusty metal gives your garden warmth and patina and provides a lovely contrast to your plants.
So, if you're looking for a way to age your garden, try a little rust. 


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