Tuesday, April 30

Laundry room re-do

One of my favorite smells in all the world is clean laundry.  Doesn't it stand to reason, then, that I would like to do laundry?  And that my laundry room would be a lovely space?

Not so much.

As ashamed as I am to admit it, here's how my laundry room looked just a few weeks ago.  Ugh.

Several years ago I re-did this space and added a number of decorative elements.  Actually, there were too many decorative elements.  The room was cluttered even when it was clean.  My friend Becky from Organizing Made Fun wrote a post emphasizing the need to de-clutter and explaining how she does it.  That gave me the kick in the pants I needed to clean out this mess.  With Becky as my online guide, I de-cluttered this space.

My laundry room is the smallest room in our home, and it had become the most maligned space.  Pretty much all I ever did was to complain about how small and inadequate it was.  Then one day I was flipping through some magazines from the World War II era (a favorite pastime of mine), and I realized that rather than complaining I should be grateful for this light, bright, well-equipped space.

That exercise in thankfulness led me to want a more vintage look for the room, just to help remind me of my blessings.  So here's my laundry room today.

Now, when I first realized that I wanted a new look for this room, there were a couple of things standing in my way.  I had no money set aside to spend on it.  And I had very little time to work on it.   Still, I wanted a new look!

I began with gathering inspiration online.  But to be honest, most of the "inspiration" photos I gathered ended up depressing me rather than inspiring me.  Custom cabinetry, expensive countertops, chandeliers--those were all beyond my reach.  Then I ran back across this post from Kim at Sand and Sisal.  Kim's laundry room is rightfully famous--it's gorgeous and it's been featured in a magazine--but it was her philosophy about laundry rooms that helped me the most.  Quoting Kim here, "The room had to be a happy color. I didn’t want a sophisticated neutral color, I mean who the heck feels sophisticated while doing laundry?"

Thank you, Kim!  You inspired me to go for what I really wanted and needed.  Here are some photos of my unsophisticated but very happy laundry room.

The sorting and folding station I created several years ago.  It's just two baskets (one for darks and one for whites) and a shelf that I mounted directly to the wall.  Not fancy, but it works.  I found the clock on clearance on Target; it's perfect for this room.  The rug I've had for years; I was so pleased that it works with the new decor.


Last week I shared the wall I art I made from pieces of a vintage tablecloth.  The rest of the tablecloth I used to create a café curtain for the window.  I simply cut the tablecloth in half, sewed a simple rod pocket into one side, and threaded a café rod through the pocket.  Instant window treatment!  Now I can keep the blinds open for natural light but still have privacy.  Love that!  And with this cheerful fabric as my principal feature, I didn't need to re-paint.  The wall color is Benjamin Moore's "Blue Hydrangea."

You can read here how I created the clothespin sunburst mirror for just a few dollars.  It's a great accent piece for a laundry room!

My "Keep Calm and Carry On" poster is a reproduction of the original created by the British Ministry of Information in World War II.  I purchased a reproduction "Keep Calm" poster for just £3.60 directly from Barter Books, the bookshop that re-discovered the poster.  It's perfect for my laundry room--the wartime era poster goes well with my vintage fabrics, the red is just the right color, and the sentiment is spot on!  When I feel overwhelmed by the amount of dirty laundry, I just try to keep calm and carry on.

To frame the poster inexpensively, I bought an off-the-shelf poster frame at a craft store with a 50% off coupon.  That made the frame less than $15.  Then I simply had custom mat cut at a local frame shop, which cost about $12.  I framed it all myself, and I have a just the look I wanted for very little money.

I like having a lamp in the laundry room.  Sometimes we keep our doggies locked in this room when we have company.  I turn off the overhead light and turn on the lamp; the low light helps them to stay calm.  This lamp was a Goodwill find; all I did was to hot-glue some rick-rack onto the shade for a fun retro look.  Along with the lamp, a plant, an antique iron and a housekeeper's box I've had for years complete a pleasing countertop vignette.   Now maybe I'll keep this counter clear rather than stacking it with junk.

A few little touches and tricks I use in this small laundry room:

I found this little galvanized bucket in the One Spot (the $2.50 part) at Target; it's a great place to keep socks whose twins have gone missing.  I used to have a big basket for this purpose, but I found that I was just filling up the big basket and never actually getting around to matching the socks.  No more!  If matches don't show up pretty quickly, I'm going to consign odd socks to the rag bag.

This tiny galvanized tub holds clothespins and loose change on top of the dryer.  This was also a One Spot (the $1.00 part) find.  I like the way it looks like an old washtub.  I like to keep clothespins close at hand.  All other laundry supplies are tucked away in the cupboards above the machines.

There are hanging rods on either side of my washer and dryer, but sometimes I need another place to hang an item.  I placed a wreath hanger from the dollar store over a closet door in the room; it's just right for hanging odd things such as a belt or empty hangers.  It's strong enough to hold heavy things, too.  Two of these hung a few inches apart would make a great hanger for an ironing board.  And you could paint them a fun color or simply paint them the same color as the door; maybe I'll get around to that some day.

There's a bit of space between my dryer and the cupboard beside it; I've found it's an excellent place to store flat items such as posterboard.  This is also where I keep the whiteboard I use for photo shoots.  

Total spent on this makeover: about $60.00 for the poster, clock, frames, curtain rod, and buckets.  For all other items I shopped the house.

Just for fun, here's one last look.  We went from this:

To this:

What do you think?  What's the state of things in your laundry room?

I'm joining these wonderful parties:

Wow Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style

Saturday, April 27

Just when you need a laugh

Some people own gift shops.  Some run booths at antique malls.  Some sell their items online.

And some, apparently, simply use restroom stalls at gas stations to display their wares.  Stalls in the men's room, no less.

An actual photo snapped by my husband
Gotta admire the entrepreneurial spirit, right?

My favorite part is the availability of a layaway plan for large items.  What's yours?

Wednesday, April 24

DIY Custom Wall Art

Lately I've been busy making little changes all over the house.  I just finished a fun little project for my laundry room, and I'm eager to share it with you!

My poor laundry room had reached the point of chaos, so I've been working on a budget-friendly redo.  The room is small, and this back corner of my laundry room is just big enough to hold laundry baskets and a small shelf for folding clothes.  But I want it to be a cheerful space.

Inspired by images from the mid-20th century, I decided to go for kind of a retro feel in this little room. I found the red clock on clearance at Target; it was just what I wanted.  To go with the clock, I used a vintage tablecloth that had gotten a bit too ragged to use as a tablecloth to create some decor.

For this wall art, I simply spray-painted and distressed a couple of pre-packaged frames from the shelf at Costco, where the twin pack cost around $15.  They were originally black, but that look felt a bit too heavy for this room.  Distressed white is just right.

Then I cut and starched a couple of pieces from the tablecloth, taped them to back of the mats, and popped them into the frames.

If you look closely, you can see a small stain that couldn't be removed from this panel.  But I don't think anyone is going to be looking that closely at the art in my laundry room!

Aren't they cheerful and pretty?  And the best part is that they cost me nothing other than the cost of two inexpensive frames, a bit of spray paint, and a little time.

Now to finish the rest of the laundry room so I can show it to you.  Ahem.  Since this will include finding the mates to about 50 odd socks, this may take awhile.

For now, I'm so happy with custom art pieces!  What do you think?

I'm joining Amanda at Serenity Now for Weekend Bloggy Reading
and the Framed Fabric Ditto DIY Challenge at Fieldstone Hill Design.

Saturday, April 20

A shared story

One of the loveliest traditions of our church is weekly communion, particularly because our practice is to have members serve communion to one another.  We all line up and proceed to the front of our worship space, where our fellow members offer the elements, murmuring "Christ's body broken for you" and "Christ's blood shed for you."  It's a beautiful time.

This week I was talking with our Associate Pastor about last Sunday's service.  He told me that he'd asked a lady to serve communion who at first demurred, "Oh, I don't think I could." Puzzled, he asked why.  Her answer: "Because I have a prosthetic hand."

Turns out that her prosthesis was not an impediment at all.  This beautiful lady held the cup steady as worshippers took communion.

But she was surprised that the pastor didn't know about her prosthetic hand before Sunday.  He told me that she'd said, "I just assume. . . "

And before he told me, I could finish her sentence.  I knew what she said.

She said, "I just assume it's the first thing people notice about me."

Of course.

I know that feeling all too well.  That's exactly the way I feel about my birthmark.

Oh, how I wish this were not so.  I'd certainly never noticed the lovely woman at church had a prosthetic hand.  The pastor had never noticed.  Almost nobody had noticed.  Yet she assumed we'd all seen it.  She was certain it's the first thing we saw.  But it's not.

She is not defined by her prosthesis.  I'm not defined by my birthmark.  And despite our self-consciousness, those attributes are not the first thing that people notice.  It's not that people don't notice us; it's just that they're too busy looking into our eyes, listening to our laughs, hearing our voices to see the imperfections that seem so glaring to us.

The truth is, some people know us well and never notice.

Now, I say "the truth is," but I'm still learning that it's the truth.  Last May I wrote a post about dealing with both the ugly and the pretty about myself.  Imagine my surprise when a woman I'd known years ago contacted me about that post.  I knew her well.  She was my junior counselor at camp, which meant that we worked together and played together and slept in the same room together.  We did everything side by side during that time at summer camp.   There's no telling how many times we changed into our swimsuits right there in that room.  Yet when she wrote to me, she told me that she just couldn't remember that I had a birthmark.

Honestly, I still have trouble believing that.  But I know she's a truth-telling woman, so I'm trying to believe it.

Turns out that a lot of us have trouble believing the truth about ourselves.  This week I saw the video called "Real Beauty Sketches" produced by Dove as part of its Real Beauty campaign.  I wept as I watched it.  If you haven't seen it, I urge you to watch it.

And please tell me: is this part of your story, too?

Tuesday, April 16

Dining room changes

A couple of weeks ago I asked y'all for your opinions regarding my dining room, and I really appreciated your help!  Nearly all of you voted for me to leave the top of the china cabinet OFF and to use the base as a buffet.  Obviously, it's not as tall as a traditional sideboard, but I think it works.

So here's what I've done with that large wall.  I love the way this big mirror shows up against the blue walls!

From the side, with the lamps turned off (where you can also get a great view of the return air vent!):

I know the mirror is very gold and the lamps are mostly silver, but I think I'm fine with the mixed metals look.  The lamps are actually mercury glass, so there's a lot of gold flecking in them:

And you can see a bit of the chandelier in this photo, which is bronze.  Lots of mixed metals!  I think I like that, but I'm still not quite sure.  Do you think it all works together harmoniously?

You might recognize the big mirror as the one that used to hang on the wall of crosses in my living room.

At the request of my husband, big changes are underway in the living room.  I actually hired professional design help for the very first time, and I'm excited about giving that room a whole new look.  I'll be sharing those changes soon!

So what do you think of the mirror in the dining room?  Do you think it works?

I'm joining these fun parties:
Kim at Savvy Southern Style for Wow Us Wednesdays

Sunday, April 14

Weekend fun in the springtime

Hi friends!  Hope you're having a wonderful weekend!

Take a look at what's blooming around here:

See the wisteria hanging just above the azaleas?

And just look at this perfect dogwood blossom:

There's a price to pay for living in such a lush locale as North Carolina, though.  The pollen is absolutely choking.  I wiped off the table on my screened porch (or tried to)--and here's my cloth:

Now it's coated even more thickly than before.  Sneeze, cough, sneeze.

Just for fun, I'll share this photo my husband snapped last night with his iPhone:

We went to a gala to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House at the North Carolina Children's Hospital.  Such a good cause!  As you might guess, the theme was The Wizard of Oz.  Aren't the characters cute?  Yes, there was a yellow brick road that we followed to enter the ballroom.  Such fun.

Lots of us were wearing black, though, and when went out onto the patio, the staff warned us not to lean up against anything.  Black dresses and tuxedos don't look so great with pollen smeared all over them.  So today I wore a chartreuse dress to church--I figured if you can't beat 'em, join 'em!

What have you been up to this weekend?  Has spring arrived in your neck of the woods?

Tuesday, April 2

Another decorating decision to make--
please help again!

Y'all are so helpful!  Thanks for sharing your thoughts about the new color for my kitchen.  Now I have another question for you.

I am considering taking off the tall breakfront portion of my china cabinet and just using the base as a buffet.  If you've seen my dining room before, you know that I have built-in china cabinets in this room:

In addition to these built-ins, I've had a china cabinet at the other end of the room:

That's a lot of tall stuff in one room, but no serving space.  So here's what I'm thinking about:

Here's a photo with the lamps turned off so that you can see a little better.

With the built-in china cabinets, I certainly don't need the storage or display space of the tall hutch.  As a matter of fact, keeping my china and crystal in the hutch made it very difficult to use, as a plate or glass threatened to topple over every time I opened the doors.

Do you like the idea of using the base cabinet as a buffet?  My plan is to put a large mirror above the base cabinet.  I love the two lamps--it took me weeks to find ones that I liked, but these are wonderful.  (If I decide to put the china cabinet back in the room, I'll use these lamps elsewhere.)

So what do you think?  Put the tall breakfront back or keep the buffet space?  I'd love your thoughts!

**Note: The blue on my walls is a Sherwin Williams custom mix.  Here's the label:

Monday, April 1

Decorating decision to make--please help!

Hello, friends!  Hope you all had a wonderful Easter.

Today I need your help.  This week is a big painting week at my house, and I'm having trouble deciding on a color for my kitchen.

I have made a little progress.  Green is my favorite color, so I've decided I want to stay in the green family.  The kitchen is currently painted a very neutral color--a dark sage that's on the tan side called Ruskin Room Green by Sherwin Williams.

Here's my kitchen now.  In these photos the green looks a good bit brighter than it does in real life, but this will give you an idea of what I'm working with.  There's not too much wall space on this end:

Lots of wall space on this end:

I think I want to go a bit lighter and brighter in here, so I'm thinking about Sherwin Williams "Sassy Green."  

SW6416 Sassy Green

An alternative would be the next lighter tint, Sherwin Williams Hearts of Palm:

SW6415 Hearts Of Palm

Here's a paint chip of the Sassy Green right on top of my Ruskin Room Green walls.  You can see here that the Sassy Green is much greener than the current Ruskin Room Green.

What do you think?  Do you like the Sassy Green and/or Hearts of Palm?  Help a sister out and let me know your opinion, please!