Erin’s Kitchen

I attempted and failed miserably to capture the beauty of Tim and Erin’s kitchen at Christmastime. These photos are from a professional- the ones who made the cabinets: Wynwood Fine Cabinetry

And click here to see a few of the “before” for the kitchen.

library ladder for the top cabinets

The ladder reaches all the upper cabinets

Gorgeous brass

Open shelving and glass fronts simple, elegant hardware

the doors open and slide in to reveal a work station The mess of baking is hidden away when not in use

no carrying the water laden pots across the room


Boy and Girl Bedroom to Share

My basement was flooding, I had family staying for a visit, and my baby was a couple months old– this equaled the perfect time to paint the kids’ bedroom and re-decorate, according to my older, wiser sister Meghan. Of course it was nutso and I don’t think anyone ate anything for dinner that night besides some tortilla chips BUT we got most of the painting done that night. And now I love it. Blues and greys were definitely the right colors for a smallish upstairs room for 3 kids to share, it’s clean and calming.

Paint Colors are Ace Hardware Storm Cloud on the crib, Oyster on the walls, and Divine Whip on the trim. Elephant fabric for the curtains is from Spoonflower and took about 20 minutes to make. Someday I’ll get around to painting the bunk beds too.

The Things That Matter

The Things That Matter

I was thankful for the book, Shed. Eternally thankful. It helped me rid my life of the stuff that does not enhance. But I was ready to move on. Enter Nate Berkus.

Due out in mid-October, The Things That Matter finishes where Shed leaves off.  Nate Berkus gave me permission to add a little soul to my home. Berkus encouraged me to pull out the silhouettes that my mom had done of each of us four children over forty years ago and find a place for them on my wall, it made me root out the iron bulldog bank my grandmother gave me and place it on a tray with two brass candle sticks (wedding gift of 33 years ago)- also ferreted out of a closet to sit with the dog on the tray. The rug my great-grandfather hooked for me when his days stretched before him after his legs were amputated that gave him something to do it now rests beneath my Goodwill score of a desk.

Berkus allowed me to admit that yes, I bought the pair of ceramic quail at the second-hand-store. Sweetly made by a couple and inscribed on the bottom, one reads, “To my mate, from your lover,” the other, “To my lover from your mate ’61″ What  is their story, where are “mate” and “lover” today?

“As I’ve said over and over again, our homes should tell the stories of who we are. Not who our decorator is. Not who our friends sometimes think we should be, not who our family occasionally wishes we would be,and not who any number of style magazines tell us we must be.”

Nate Berkus begins by telling us who he is, where he grew up, what life was like for him as a kid in Minnesota and then a boarding student in Massachusetts, then on to college and his favorite and life-changing year of college in Paris. The telling of his life throughout the book is what takes it from a clever book to a poignant beautifully photographed and inspiring story. He tells of the death of his partner,Fernando Bengoechea, when the two of them were in Sri Lanka as a tsunami hit and swept them into the swirling ebbing and flowing flood. Berkus lived; Bengoechea perished.

As he walks us through the treasures of his house and the houses of 13 friends, he tells why the things he and friends have mean so much to them.

Have I mentioned I like round things? This blue glass ball needed a home and I obliged. It sits in a bowl of Austrian crystal bought there ten years ago, kept company by a Lalique bird.

My grandma, Emma Grace Jarrett, gave me this dog a long time ago. Now making a return appearance on my coffee table.

My great grandfather had both legs amputated and having lived a very active life needed something to do while he sat the days away. He made rugs. This is mine. It was just rolled out again after reading Nate Berkus’s book. My father-in-law was once on a typewriter buying spree. I got one.

“Lover” and “Mate” sit by my round glass lamp. Don’t they make you want to hit the second hand stores to see what treasures you might find?

All lined out in birth order around an etching from a trip to that English church.

Looking to Fall

Table runners- the perfect compromise.

It’s time. Fall will be here soon. I love fall decor. I wanted fall decor for my dining room.

Our table- without the extra leaves- is 10 feet long. It’s hard to find a table cloth that long. And I like having the wood exposed anyway. So, I decided to make my own table runner for fall.

A super cinch to make; I bought fabric half the length of what I wanted in the end and cut it length-wise in half. So, for 140″ of runner I only needed to buy 70″ of fabric, about 2 yards of fabric.

I then joined the widths together and sewed them together with a finished seam:

Sewing WRONG sides together first, then iron and turn so right sides are together.

Next sew right sides together and you will have a nice finished edge that won’t fray.

Then hem up the ends and sides and ta da done!

All done.

At dinner time, we put placemats all around. A runner saves me from washing table cloths after every meal because the placemats catch all that. (You can see the chairs I finally landed on to go with the table practical dark leather. Green velvet chairs with brass brads for each end of the table.)

Staging a DC Condo

Recently I was given the opportunity to stage a condo that was going up for sale– you might recognize some of the furniture from my other recent job.  It was a pretty great place to begin with so it wasn’t very hard to take it from fine to fabulous.






















There have been a few changes since I posted about our house project.  I’ve delayed putting up new pictures since most of the work that’s been done is not very visible– wiring, digging out the basement and pouring a new slab, plumbing, etc.  To the naked eye, this won’t look like much, but progress is being made!

Ceilings are down. Here’s the living room looking toward the front door.

We blew out the back half of the house, so this is the dining room looking towards what was the kitchen– totally open now.  The hole in the floor is the stairway which will be moved.

Walking up the stairs you can see that we also blew out all the walls in the back half of the upstairs too.


Just to give you an idea, this used to be the view from the top of the stairs.


Standing at the top of the stairs looking to the rear of the house, this is what you see.


And standing at the back of the house looking toward the front, this is the view. Obviously there are some walls missing around that bathroom.

The front half of the upstairs has not been changed much.

Ceilings are down

But not many other visual changes.

The back yard, however, is a total construction zone– we are in the process of putting in several retaining walls and have already raised the height of the yard quite a bit with a bunch of new dirt from our neighbors yard (who incidentally was getting rid of it and is also in the midst of a major back-yard reno)


This used to be the back yard looking toward the garage– I’m sort of sad to see the secret garden part of it gone but we’ll make sure it ends up beautiful.



When Taite and I came up the driveway, Anwyn greeted us riding along on a scooter with, “Hi, grandma,” a little too animated like that squirrel in Hoodwinked-and then zipped up the drive and into the house. A little odd.


We had bought all the food for our Festival of Fried Foods for 20 people and needed to get  prepping. As I lugged in the groceries, there was  commotion in the living room. Peeking around the corner my living room was being “rearranged.”  Anwyn had been their mole- “Go wait for grandma and let us know when she’s coming.”

“Yes, but, well, I was trying to get dinner ready to feed 20 people…” They knew I’d think the timing for redecorating was maybe a tad off. I was quickly told that a lot of people would pay for them to decorate their homes and I was getting this service for free. And since I had basically obeyed their last makeover and that didn’t need a do over, they figured they’d move on to other areas of my life.

In the end my painting easel was brought center stage. My Goodwill dumpster find was given top billing and the beautiful antique marble table was booted upstairs to the library. They were even editing the art on my walls!

In the end, two brawny men hauled the marble up the stairs, I went back to snapping the ends off of asparagus and we now have a terrific place for people to gather for games.

Alright, maybe I do like it better this way.

See that WalkieTalkie on the table? That is used to call the neighborhood kids and let them know the games are starting. Truly.


Dumpster Diving at Goodwill!?

Good things seem to happen when I haul a load of junk of to Goodwill. I often end up replacing my box of odds and ends with some amazing treasure. Like my glass table. Or my glorious rooster.

We drove up to the unload spot, handed the men our stuff, and began to drive off when over by their dumpster I spied a big old industrial desk. They were throwing it out; Goodwill would not even have it.

I parked my car and went in, “Please, can you  ask the manager if I could take or buy that desk out at the dumpster?” Well, now that someone was interested in what was previously going to be trashed, a value had to be placed on it.  The sales help came back and wondered about $4.99? You betcha.

Click on the photo to purchase this for $1200. My price- $4.99.

While perusing, I also spotted this little gem and couldn’t pass it up. It would make a nice bedside table between two twin beds, or would work for an end table in the living room or family room. It has wheels that lock in place with the lever making for a possible serving cart. Oh, gee, who couldn’t make use of something as versatile as this?

Click on the photo to see it for sale elsewhere.

Finger Painting BIG

I have some ideas for making a big statement on a large canvas with only a little talent. I think this would make a terrific kids’ project with a huge canvas and some oil paint. Or maybe just have a little fun yourself and let loose on a canvas.

I would recommend acrylic or oil paint- and some old clothes- and doing it outdoors in nice weather if kids will be involved. Using oil paint instead of cheap kids’ paint will ensure that the painting doesn’t fade over time. You will have a keepsake that you never tire of.

Yolanda Sanchez, for $8000 and up.



What I’ve really wanted to do for a long time is to make a grid on a huge canvas and have guests to my house paint a square in whatever design and color of their choosing. Mine would be a little more exact- like a grid but this is the general idea. Or you could by Suzanne Ulrich‘s for $1000

Or how about some horizontal lines. When you tire of the horizontal, you can go vertical. Kim Uchiyama’s Tonic One for only $1500.

Who has not heard of Jackson Pollock? Out in your yard, back and forth on a swing , brush in hand. Or up above on a chair or ladder swinging that paint all over the canvas.

Convergence Print

Maybe something a little more sedate.






Breakfast Nook -Before and After



That top picture was the breakfast nook when we first moved in. It had shelves that were cute, but also clutter collectors and a funky little table that only allowed two people to squeeze in. So last year we ripped out shelves for a little extra room, painted walls and trim and got this:

I liked it better but it was still hard to fit our growing family in here for breakfast. So then Zac suprised me with the perfect solotuion as my Mother’s Day gift. He built a custom window seat to wrap around the windows with seating for 6! Nana made the adorable box pleat curtains (the only credit I can take is for sewing on the buttons)  I added a craigslist round table (painted with chalkboard paint for extra fun) and now we can all linger over coffee and chocolate milk here together.

Beadboard inset and reused trim make it feel original to the house


Something Old

We are selling our old house- the first one we bought and renovated in DC.  We’ve had it for several years and it’s time to move on. For the last while I’ve been accumulating things and furniture to stage it with, filling my current home to overflowing.  It was good to finally put my ideas into solid form.  Here are the results.


My Rambling Beige


I think it’s finally all together. And it is definitely beige, definitely.

You remember my sofa? It had that big old hole in it that I repaired because I had nothing to lose trying. It's still holding up.

Mostly rambling beige; okay it is most definitely rambling beige but as my son-in-law pointed out, I do have a pink peonies in a turquoise vase- that’s color.

At our white elephant party someone brought round rocks. I knew the second someone else opened those rocks that they would be mine by the end of the night.

I was told I needed some plant life. Well, it's not alive but it's green.















Andrew said, "NO, no, no," he did not want a coffee table to clutter up the room. Okay, I'll buy one then and just slip it in. Taite spotted this one at the second-hand store and I first rejected it because, well, because it was from the second-hand store. The next day I went back and bought it. "See," Taite said, "I was right." She was.

I'm pretty crazy about birds and those round rocks kind of remind me of eggs.

And a lovely glass bird too.














I got all this mercury glass for Christmas and then just didn't want to put it away.


The last little touch was to hang all the paintings that I can't stop buying, gallery style down the wall. I left room on each end so I can add just a few more...

“It’s Four Seams and You’re Done, Mom”

Meghan said I should make a pillow out of some gorgeous fabric. I cringed, “I hate sewing, and there are a lot of pillows for sale most everywhere. I most certainly do not need to make any”

“Mom, it’s four seams and you’re done. This is beautiful fabric”

“I’ll think (long and hard) about it.”

We were out with Aileen and the point of the trip was to get fabric for Aileen’s trip to Vietnam. We were most definitely not out for me to find a sewing project, most definitely.

I bought the fabric.

I love the shimmery silver on the dull linen.

Adding a zipper to the top means I can wash the cover if I need to.

I discovered that it is best to first sew the zipper on and then sew up the remaining three sides.

I made two in no time flat! You will notice the "rambling beige" that my house is becoming. "

Meghan promises to come take some photos of my slowly redecorated house and make it look way better than it does in real life. See that jute rug? I had Andrew sweating bullets and as a result me too over switching out my oriental rug for this more casual look; what in the world was I thinking!?  He got maybe a tad grumpy about hauling them around knowing he would hate the result. Really, why would you pitch an oriental rug in favor of jute?

Later in the day he walked by the living room and said, “I really like the way that new rug looks.”

“Do you now?”




Fixing a Danish Modern

I have had Danish Modern chairs on the brain since, well, I keep seeing them in the decorating magazines.  I have been on the hunt for some and the search has been arduous, since now everyone wants them.  ”Oh, we got rid of two Danish Modern chairs and a sofa back in the ’80s in Florida,” mom kindly told me.  Many people on ebay don’t want to ship them to you.  I have been driving Eric crazy.  So when I finally bought a couple chairs, he was thrilled.  More, I think, with the hope that I would stop talking about them.

Then I found these right on my local Craigslist.  The original price was $1,500.  Gulp!  I showed Eric just how beautiful these chairs were.  Functional works of art.  I closed out of the site and vowed not to return.  But I did.  What have I go to lose?  I could just ask.  The worst that happens is she says “Are you out of your crazy mind?”.  So I did.  Would you be willing to take $500 for the pair?  I waited and waited.  It was dumb, I shouldn’t have made that offer.  But then I got an e mail back.  When would you like to come take a look?

I don’t really always like things to come to me new.  I get a lot out of fixing things up.  I feel like they are more mine if I can fix them up.  So the chair will hopefully be getting new cushions, new leather straps, and new webbing for the seat.  Honestly rewebbing it is kinda freakin’ me out.  I’ll keep you posted.


The leather strap allows you to adjust the back of the seat. As you can see it needs replaced.


Just look at the back on this chair. Beautiful. I almost hate to put a cushion on it.

Rambling Beige

Long, loooong ago when we were house hunting in Miami it seemed every house we looked at was muted colors, tan, light brown, coffee, chestnut, hazel, beige, toast.  The realtor opened one more front door walked in and said, “rambling beige,” and forevermore I’ve remembered that term.  And I thought, “I will NOT have a rambling beige house.”

In the market for a couple of chairs, I pretty much fell in love with orange ones:

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yep, orange. Definitely

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Or turquoise, yes, maybe turquoise.

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turquoise in leather...

But here’s the crazy thing; I think I love orange chairs; I think I could go a little wild with turquoise and then I take a look at my handy Pinterest board where I put my whole look together and it is totally rambling beige.  I am shocked, but picture after picture confirms it; I like monotone.  I am boring.

I know, I know; I could bring out some color with pillows, throws, a tchotchke.  But I won’t; I mean take a look at those pictures, no color.  Even the tchotchkes are muted.

I have rambling beige pieces showing up for my living room this week, no orange, no turquoise, no purple; just beige.  Maybe  there’s enough color in my life that I don’t need it in my living room.  Yah, I’m going with that.


Anwyn’s Room Makeover

As I promised, a post on Anwyn’s bedroom makeover.  If the room itself looks different- it is.  We made some room changes so the kids could have a play room and what a great change that has been.  All the toys in one room- phew.

Most of the pink is gone as promised, but touches remain.  She is my only girl after all and I still love pink.

I painted all the rooms in the house Brown Bag so I could change things up whenever I wanted without having to repaint every time. I move things around too often.

I made the "A" pillow using a template off the computer.

This cute little dresser was from Caitlin who didn't want it any more, if you can imagine.

I repainted the chair in gold.

And used Anna Maria Horner fabric. I love some of her fabric.

I just had to keep the pink flowers and the star we picked up in San Francisco.

Christmas Decorating


Well, now that the decorating is done Christmas can come.  These are some snap shots from around the house.  And now I can do the fun things like shopping for the last little bits of Christmas gifts, baking cookies, and shhh don’t tell the kids but we’re going to take them to the Nutcracker.










Anwyn’s Room Makeover


I really just want this chair. I'm definitely taking inspiration from it.

Well I have had fun with the pink.  I needed to get the urge to paint Ralph Lauren’s Aruba pink out of my system and now I am ready to grow up and do something a tat more mature.  Anwyn is going on 10 and she can’t have hot pink furniture her whole life, can she?  Well, I guess she could but really if truth be told, I want to decorate something, or rather redecorate something.  I’ll have to keep you posted on the changes.  There will have to be plenty of gold and glitter.  I’m sure Anwyn would agree.

I don’t want to spend lots but something like a new dresser is in order, lamps, frames, curtains.  You understand.  The problem is when I get the idea to redecorate I want to do it now.  The timing is not perfect as I have not even decorated for Christmas.  Eric groans as I try to do everything and then turn into a smoldering wreck.  I’m not a patient person.




Your Trash, My Treasure

I love the idea of going into a store and having absolutely no idea what will be for sale.  The only place that can happen is at a second-hand store.   I love a good treasure hunt and finding the unusual bit, so I occasionally make a peruse through one.  The real trick though, is being willing to go home empty handed.  I do not want a bunch of worthless great deals piling up in my house.  An all-time favorite find was a blue and white Wedgwood vase in perfect condition for fifty cents.  Purchase!

I am sure there's a mythical story to go with this cherub.


This sweet pheasant was telling me it wanted to be a part of my fall decor. Well then, you come right on home with me. (Painting in the background by Meghan)

My grandkids have a drawer in my kitchen that they can reach to get cups for a drink. I added to my collection which was sorely depleted.

We're not talking just any cup, we're talking made in Italy, vintage aluminum, thank you very much. 25 cents each

Also found but not available for photo, is a two man rubber raft.  We thought it might be fun for our day trips to the river but in the meantime it is floating about in our neighbor’s pool.

What was your all-time amazing find?

Home is Wherever I’m With You

I loved this the first time I heard it on Jason & Aileen’s wedding site (over a year ago!)  I still like it.

Home is Wherever I’m With You- Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros:

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It gave me an idea for yet one more use of an old atlas.

I had the entire world page still intact in the atlas that I cut to bits for crafts so I carefully removed it from the book.

I eyeball spaced the letters across the atlas.





My sister gave me these for teaching my children their letters. I kept them when we were done for craft purposes. I have used them for all sorts of lettering.





I am planning to carefully paint the letters black to make them bold. Then I might frame it for a special place.