Category Archives: Decor

New Etsy Shop!

I’m very proud to have extended my interior design business to a new Etsy shop. If you are not familiar with Etsy, allow me to introduce it to you…

What is Etsy?

Etsy is an e-commerce website featuring vintage (over 20 years old) or handmade items exclusively. By offering artists and designers an easy-to-use, online storefront, more beautiful items can been viewed by more customers, saving both the customers and the artists money.

Since its creation in 2005, Etsy has become the internet leader in handcrafted and vintage item sales. October 2011, alone, showed over $48 million in sales. If you haven’t explored their offerings, you should take some time to browse the site.

Why I love it!

Being a part of larger artist community is in itself both rewarding and inspirational. Being able to share great vintage finds and handmade home decor with my friends and clients just makes those finds all the more sweet.

I really hate to leave something beautiful in the back corner of an antique store when I know it can find a lovely new home with just a little tender loving care. And now, thanks to Etsy, I don’t have to! My shop will offer of vintage items I’ve found while out shopping for clients.

It will also include handmade art and storage items I’ve created to using both popular design trends and classic decorative arts motifs as inspiration. Since I am always up to date on color trends, textures, and pattern must-haves, I use that knowledge to create something original.

Do you love beautiful fabrics the way I do? I’m including pillows and pillow covers in my shop to make updating your furnishing easy and affordable. By buying a pillow cover, you can change-up your existing pillows with a new look whenever the mood strikes you. Plus you won’t have to find storage space for more pillows.

The inventory in my Etsy shop will only ever available in very small quantities, mainly because I have a larger business to run and also because I’m creating or finding items one at a time in, sometimes from out-of-the-way places or limited source sales.

Christmas Decor

Right now, I have several Christmas items left in the shop! I’ve created items with classic motifs and some more modern patterns to mix into with more contemporary styles.

All of these seasonal items offer a very affordable way to add a little something new to your home decor.

The Christmas art I’m offering makes for a very original hostess/host gift or a great gift for those hard-to-buy-for gift recipients.

I can also guarantee delivery by Christmas Eve, making your Christmas shopping list a little shorter, with less stress.

How to find the CARO Interiors Etsy shop:

I’ve linked my shop to all of the places you already find CARO Interiors on the web. We all lead busy lives. Who who wants to spend more time digging around on the internet for a web address?

You’ll always be able to click on a direct link on my website’s side bar, which looks just like this:

And you’ll notice there is a new header tab for it at the top of the website. You can also search for CARO Interiors from the Etsy home page.

Once you are at my Etsy shop, you’ll recognize the familiar logo at the top of my shop’s page. Take a look around a let me know what you think. There will be new items added to the shop on a regular basis. I can’t wait to share all my little findings with you!

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Cookie cutter decor

I’ve been decorating our home for Christmas and, as usual, I was looking for something a little bit different to add to this year’s decor, without spending a lot of money. We live small in our home, so I was also looking for something that would not take up a lot of room during the other 11 months of the year.

Does this happen to you? You want something a little different and/or new, but you don’t want to buy anything that could eat into your budget for other seasonal planning. Well, this year I found something already in my home that I could play with in several ways. You probably have some of these in your home, too.

We all know that cookies cutters are great for making cookies for the holidays. However, when you’re done baking with them, they normally go right back into storage. Right?

Yet, Christmas cookies are almost as synonymous with Christmas as ice cream is with Summer. So, I decided to see how I could use my cookie cutters as a Christmas motif for free decor around the house. I already own the cookie cutters, so why not find an extra purpose for them?

Vase Filler

Do you have a spare vase you aren’t using? Fill it with something shiny! You can add a little ribbon wrapped around the outside of the vase and you can put this vase anywhere that needs a little extra holiday spirit in your home.

Fill several vases and run them down the middle of your dining table. Place a mixed of votive candles around them and you have a simple, chic centerpiece.

Ornaments

These may be the easiest way to reuse your cookie cutters. There is no end to the places you can hang cutters as ornaments in your home. All you need is  ribbon and some imagination.

This is a cookie cutter as a garland ornament on part of our banister. You could also:

  • Mix them in on your Christmas tree
  • Hang them with your coffee mugs/utensils/pot & pans
  • Suspend them from the center of a pendant lamp or chandelier
  • Tie them with assorted lengths of ribbon from curtain rods
  • Loop them, using the ribbon, over a doorknob
  • Hang them over the light switch on your lamps
  • Tie them onto a wreath

Napkin Rings

Having a lot of guests for dinner? This is a very affordable way to add all of the place settings you need without having to spend money on extra napkin rings. Just like the ideas above, all you need is a little ribbon in the color of your choice.

Simply loop the ribbon around two sides of a cookie cutter…

…wrap the long ends of the ribbon around a folded napkin and tie it in the back with a bow…

This is a great idea for kids because they can help set the table on for the family meal on Christmas. It’s also a great way to use those older cookie cutters that may be a little more difficult to use these days. Like these:

I have kept this antique type of cookie cutter because they came from my family years ago, yet the blunt, crimped edges make it really hard to get the dough out nowadays. I just tied the ribbon in the front this time and this napkin is ready to dress up the table.

If you prefer a slightly more modern table setting, consider using a cookie cutter to anchor your napkin as it stands up on a plate. Fold each napkin into a large triangle and then wrap the ends in to fit inside the cookie cutter’s form.

Those are three fun ways I’ve added cookie cutter decor to our home this holiday season. Can you think of a fourth or fifth way of using them around the house? Do you have a tip for using other everyday household items for holiday decor? Share your ideas and solutions in a comment! Everybody loves free decor upgrades!

(Psssssssst! Want more free holiday decor? You can enter to win some in the free giveaway I’m running right now. Just click right here to enter!)

Three Christmases

Did anyone see the Reese Witherspoon movie “Four Christmases” a few years ago? It was not the fun romantic comedy we thought it would be. Which is a shame , because the casting offered so much potential. I love a good Christmas movie to get us in the spirit of the season!

The other thing that gets us in the holiday mood is Christmas music and putting out our holiday decor. I’m gonna cover movies and music in some other posts, but today, I have brought you some fun holiday decor. Pulled from all of my retail wanderings, I have gather together three mood boards of Christmas decor on Pinterest.

Just like every board on Pinterest, all of the items shown are linked directly to their retailers. Just click on the pictures to take you there! I hope you like what I’ve put together for your window shopping or gift buying pleasure.

Each mood board has a different style theme, so there should be a little something in there for everyone. I had a lot of fun building these, since it also allowed me to pretend shop for things I like. And for all of you readers that are already dealing with snow, I hope this warms you up a bit!

A Victorian Christmas

This mood board is everything old school about Christmas. Think Dickens. Think “The Night Before Christmas”. Think hot chocolate and mistletoe and the rich colors of antique gilded ornaments.

You can layer this style of Christmas decor as thick as you want it to be in your home. The Victorians’s were big fans of the “less is more” “more is more” theory, so you can even say you are being historically accurate. Throw another log on the fire, sing a carol or two, and pour yourself a glass of mulled wine. It’s Christmas!

A Nordic Christmas

This mood board takes it’s inspiration from the simplicity of Mother Nature’s colors at this time of year. Blankets of snow, wood decorations, and muted colors mix with the warmth of brandied eggnog, cosy sweaters and fresh pine boughs.

By using neutral colors and mostly natural finishes, this timeless decor style makes it easy to change up your colors from year to the next. You can add red accents everywhere this year, using ribbon, candles, fruit, flowers, etc. The next year, you could switch to a light blue color theme.

All of your Nordic decor will adapt and be useful for years to come. (Hint: This is exactly the same reason I always recommend good neutral sofas to clients!) Snuggle up with a warm blanket, savor some gingerbread and enjoy every snowflake that falls. Happy Yuletide!

A Mod Christmas

You may already know the theme music to this Christmas mood board. It swings and it scats ’cause, baby, it’s cold outside!  Ole St. Nick won’t mind if you jazz up his Christmas Eve by leaving him a cocktail with those cookies.

Shiny silvers, bright jingle bells and sleek surfaces come together to make this a new classic style. Warm up the winter weather with some lime greens and cherry reds. Keep the decor simple and focus on the fun you’ll have popping popcorn, filling stocking and dancing around you tree as you entertain this year. Bring on the bubbly and have a very happy New Year, too!

To The Mood Boards

Here you go! Just click on the picture below…

… and happy browsing!

Let me know if you  find a must-have treasure in those mood boards. Some of those treats are so affordable! What is your favorite decor item to put out at Christmas? Is there one thing that really says, “Christmas is here!” to you? Share your favorites in a comment!

Advent-tageous

Well, hello again!

It’s so nice to see you here! I’ve been away working extra long hours to help my clients get their homes ready for holiday entertaining. I’m happy to report that all of our goals and deadlines were met in time for some serious Thanksgiving feasts. My one worry was that when I returned to blogging that all of my readers had given up on me. (New Year’s Resolution #1: Find better work/rest life balance.)

Image courtesy of servicelearning.org

What have you been up to lately? Did you eat your fill of turkey and dressing? Did you get to enjoy some time off to relax? Are you ready for the calendar to roll over into December? December! Can you believe it has crept up this fast this year?!

Speaking of calendars, I thought I’d share sources for something to help us ease into the next big holiday. In my travels through the internet and stores at this time of year I see all kinds of holiday decor. (More eye candy coming on Wednesday!) Several of my friends have asked me to watch for these items, so I’m guessing some of you might be looking for them, too.

I’ve gathered a list of sources for Advent calendars. I grew up with these in Europe and they seem to be more popular every year over here. I have found both the candy ones and the ones you can fill yourselves, in case your kids don’t need more excitement through extra sugar.

I’ve also tried to find them in a variety of price ranges so we can all stay within our budgets. All of the images above and below are linked directly to their retailers to make shopping for them grabbing them before they disappear easier. You can just click on the pictures!

Candy-filled Advent Calendars

In my experience, all holiday planning goes more smoothly if you have a mouthful of chocolate. Exhibit A: Santa’s waistline. It seems to me that the only dilemma with candy-filled Advent calendars is making sure the candy tastes good. Here’s what I found:

Trader Joe’s

I found these chocolate-filled Advent calendars on Amazon. I’d never noticed any Trader Joe’s products on Amazon before, but maybe I just haven’t been looking since I live near two store locations.

Trader Joe's 24 Chocolate Days Till Christmas Santa's Workshop Advent Calendar Filled with 24 Milk Chocolates

I’ve had other chocolate products from Trader Joe’s before, so I can safely guess that this chocolate will taste good. These calendars are moving fast on Amazon, so if you want one before they run out of stock, I’d grab it now.

Trader Joe's 24 Days of Milk Chocolate Christmas Tree Advent Calendar

Moonstruck Chocolate Co.

The Advent calendar I showed at the top of this post seems more for adults, especially with it’s gourmet price tag. While I’m not familiar with this chocolate company, this calendar is certainly filled with  some mouth watering treats. Take a look:

Mmmmm. Chooooocooooolaaaaaate…. What? Sorry!

I was rather surprised at some of the places I didn’t find candy-filled Advent calendars. Really, Williams Sonoma and Godiva? This product seems to fit your brands so perfectly.

Whole Foods

Not only is this chocolate really good, it’s vegetarian, kosher and is guaranteed fair trade. You can eat this chocolate in the name of making the planet a better place to live.

Divine Chocolate Divine Milk Chocolate Advent Calendar

I haven’t seen this calendar in my store yet, but I’m going to look for it. Maybe they have already been bought out…yikes!

Fill-them-yourself Advent Calendars

I kind like the concept of these types of Advent calendars because they are open to more creative gift ideas. A cool eraser, a new matchbox car, a pretty hair clip…lots of potential for easy, affordable solutions. Plus, you only have to buy the calendar once and you can re-use it for years. Here’s what I found:

Ikea

New this year from the people who got you hooked on lingonberries, this very affordable ($10!) Advent calendar was flying off the shelves when I was at Ikea last weekend.

YRSNÖ Advent calendar (No idea how to pronounce that.)

I like that it has a non-boxy shape and weights only 1 lb. Easy storage for next year! It would even make a creative host/hostess gift.

Target

To be fair, I browsed Target for Advent calendars before Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so I can’t promise that their inventory has not been decimated  by that crazy Target commercial lady and her friends. I like the style option of this model…

Home Mirrored Advent Calendar

…but I would recommend buying these in the stores, so you can see that the quality of construction is good. Some of the individuals ones I found in the store had drawers that don’t close properly and/or wonky mirror application. Sorry, Target. Gotta keep it honest for my readers!

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Looking for something a little more artistically sophisticated  in your Advent calendar? You’d think this source would offer lots of pricey options, but all of their advent calendars come in under $20. I love the creative forms they offer, like this one:

Wiener Werkstätte Advent Calendar

As each day passes you open up the calendar page and add another little ornament to the paper tree. This would be great in a younger child’s room. How fun to have your own little tree!

This next calendar is actually pre-filled, but it replaces the traditional chocolates with Christmas stickers:

My Art Museum Sticker Advent Calendar

I like this idea. However, I have a friend who pointed out that the candy  sugar rush burns off rather quickly, but she could still be staring down a Christmas sticker next July. Any other parents out there want to weigh in on this?

I also like this calendar, because I love the colors and its design. You open each drawer to remove a Nativity scene character, which helps you build a Nativity scene by Christmas Day.  You also turn the drawer around to slowly create a tree full of graceful angels:

Christmas Tree Advent Calendar

It has nice sized drawers, which could be used for other little treats in future years. Aren’t those fun? You can see all of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s advent calendars in their online shop, linked right here.

Ballard Designs

This last source is a company I use a lot with my design clients because they have great quality of construction. If you are a fan of them, too, you might have already spotted some of their furnishing in some of my past client mood boards, which you can browse right here.

I love this advent calendar:

Holiday Countdown Advent Calendar

I like the almost-doll-house feel of it. This is another version of the drawer calendar openings. I like that you could decorate the house more with ribbons and garland to your own tastes. I like the size and that it can sit almost anywhere in a home.

Do you use an Advent calendar in your home during the holidays? Have you been looking for one recently? What is the best thing you ever got from an Advent calendar? Who else is still craving chocolate? Leave a comment and share some holiday cheer!

More on the floor

When I tell you that I’m going to share one of my favorite customized floor sources with you today, does that immediately make you think of a very expensive price tag? Well then, you’re in for a nice surprise because this floor product is customized at very reasonable price. We’re talking about carpet tiles.

Now, let’s clarify something before we go any further. If “carpet tiles” makes you think of industrial grey or blue thin squares of carpet in an office lit with fluorescent lights, that is not what we’re talking about today. We’re talking a about an area rug or wall-to-wall carpet that you customize to fit your size needs and style desires. Take a look at a few examples:

These are not the dingy, generic office carpets that used to define carpet tiles. These are all the products of a fabulous company called FLOR. And right now, they are having a great sale going on to make designing your own carpet or rug even more affordable.

Creative Designs

You may have heard of FLOR before on design tv shows or in magazine ads. They are the new darlings of affordable, customized rugs for your home. And you can certainly see why with this kind of style.

For the price of a regular area rug or carpet padding and carpet, you can afford a very functional and elegant floor covering.

With FLOR tiles, you can customize the rug to the exact size you need in your room, without paying a traditional custom rug size cost.

They also have a great selection of original shapes, colors, and textures. FLOR also offers berber and wool carpet tile models…

…as well as original forms you can assemble and/or cut to your own tastes and interests.

I’m not getting paid or perked to talk about this great company. I only talk about companies that I really like and you can read more about that right here. I love FLOR because it helps my clients put more personality into their homes without breaking their budgets.

How It Works

You choose the size of rug you need in the style of tiles of your choice.

FLOR gives you lots of details about each rug tile model, including the depth of the face fibers so you can plan your rug to meet your traffic needs.

When your tiles arrive, you use their dots to secure the tiles to the floor.

Align each tile onto the dots…

…and little by little, your rug takes shape, right where you want it. Easy vacuuming, no extra rug padding needed and your rug stays in place.

You can also design your own rug layout, using multiple styles, textures, and colors of tiles…

…and by using their user-friendly online customizing tools.

Practical Solutions

I like FLOR tiles because their designs offer some realistic solutions to common household carpet problems. Have you ever been seated at a dining table and struggled to move your chair because the rug was so thick or just got bunched up? That is not a problem with FLOR:

Have you ever had a nasty stain on a carpet that you could never get rid of, no matter how hard you cleaned it? You have probably tried to move a piece of furniture over the stain or replaced the rug outright. Wine, pasta sauce, grape juice, etc. can be every rug’s nemesis. With FLOR, you just replace one or two stained tiles and move on with your life.

A bathroom rug you don’t have to throw into the washing machine or line dry? Vacuuming has never sounded so good:

Did I mention that FLOR is striving for full sustainability? They have a Return & Recycle program that encourages customers to send in their old FLOR tiles so that none of their carpet tiles end up in landfills. You can read more about their ongoing eco-friendly progress right here.

You can see the full line of FLOR products on their great website, which supplied all of the pictures for this post. While you’re on their website, you also can sign up for a catalog to make sure you see all of their newest designs.

Do you like the idea of using beautiful carpet tiles in your home? In what part of your home would you put a new rug or carpet? See a pattern or color you love in this post. Share your carpet cravings in a comment!

Less, a lot less, can be more

I love designing small spaces. LOVE it. I think it is the combination of designing über-organization, space planning and essential style/personality that make it fun for me.

As I have shared with you before, I also love to browse house plans. Space planning is one of my favorite things to do and having a blank space like an empty floor plan is my recipe for lots of lovely daydreaming. You can readmore about some of my favorite sources for house plans right hereright here and also here.

So, it is with great delight that I show you the very tiniest house plans that I adore. All of these plans (and all of the house images in this post) are from the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company.

Come on! How cute is that tiny house?!

Tumbleweed Tiny House Company has a great variety of truly tiny and stylish homes. Some of you may recognize the model pictured below. It is called the “Beavan” and was featured in one of the final episodes of this past season of HGTV’s Design Star.

Tumbleweed offers three types of tiny homes. The first type is the “Box Bungalow”, like the “Beavan” model shown above. These very tiny homes are designed to be built on your own location. They make great getaway cabins and could also make a little hobby space or home office behind your regular home.

Did you know that George Bernard Shaw did a lot of his writing in a tiny little house behind his larger home? Here it is:

Image courtesy of wikipedia.com

He just needed a quiet little space away from the main house to focus and do his writing. Shaw was on of the founders of the London School of Economics and here is more proof that he recognized a great economical solution when he found one.

Image courtesy of newstalk.ie

This is also proof that the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company is really on to something timeless and useful.

(Did that last sentence sound like this post is a giant advertisement? Well, it isn’t. I only ever talk about products and companies I actually really like and/or use myself. I like to keep it real so I never get paid for mentioning anything. You can read all about it right here.)

The next type of Tumbleweed Tiny House is the “House To Go”, which have slightly larger floor plans and are portable houses. Like this one:

This is the “Fencl” model and, as you can see, it is designed to be moved to wherever you need it. You can see all of the detailed floor plans (yay!) and more photos for each of their tiny houses on Tumbleweed’s website, such as the “Fencl” floor plan right here:

I think this is a very flexible, creative living space. You can buy the plans and build it yourself or order it ready-made. Think of how wonderful this house could be for victims of terrible disasters like Hurricane Katrina or the huge earthquake in Japan earlier this year. Have house, will travel to safety as needed.

Okay, the last category of houses form Tumbleweed is my very favorite. They are actually “Cottages”, designed to be build on site (non-portable) as guest houses or small homes. They have some great character detailing.

My personal favorite of these cottages is the “B53” model, which is pictured below. This two bedroom home has 777 square feet on two floors.

Could you live in a house that small? Isn’t it amazing how when you hear of people downsizing to small homes that they never miss the extra “stuff” they had filling up their previous home. There is something to be said for living small and having only the things you really love filling your home. (Insider info: We live this way in a historic city neighborhood, which always surprises my clients with larger homes. It might not be for everyone, but we love it.)

Here’s the “B53”:

How great is that curb appeal?!  Don’t you love the porch?

In addition to regular floor plans, you can also see the floor plans for some of these small homes in 3D floor plans. Here is the first floor of the “B53”:

I particularly love the second floor on this plan because of the walk-closet off of the second bedroom. It has a nice window, so you could also use this room as a nursery or a well-lit home office.

What would you do with that bright walk-in closet?

The “B53” comes with a second option for its floor plans, which includes and extra bedroom at the back of the house and takes the square footage up to 874 square feet. You can see it here:

Three bedrooms is very nice for a small house. Did I mention how affordable these homes are? The “B53″model I’ve shown you is one of the largest houses that Tumbleweed Tiny Houses Company offers and its extra-bedroom floor plan has estimated building costs of only $58,000. There are a lot more to choose from in their catalog and you can see all of them on their website.

Could you see yourself in one of these tiny homes? Where would you put one as a vacation home? What is the smallest home you’ve ever lived in so far? How do you feel about the idea of “living small”? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!

Hollywood Open House

It’s a rainy Friday here and I thought we could use some extra fun, so let’s go gawking at some movie star homes. We’re going to use the fabulous Architectural Digest as our tour guide today. All of the house images in this post come directly from them and the very talented photographers they work with for each month’s issue.

I “discovered” AD when I was in college and they did this amazing spread of old home decor photos from movies stars of the ’30’s and ’40’s. Some of these pictures were so old that they must have been pulled from the archives of those infamous Hollywood studio publicity offices. I have been hooked on Architectural Digest ever since then.

Image courtesy of wiki.brown.edu

Have I ever told you that I’m an old movie fan? I am. HUGE fan. I took film classes in college and I even own dvds of some important silent films. There are few activities I love in this world like curling up with some fresh popcorn and a great old film.

Anyway, Architectural Digest takes amazing, timeless photographs, as you will see. Today I’ve gathered together some of the AD photo galleries of the homes of real Hollywood movie stars, both old and current, and linked them directly below. Let’s go knock on a few doors and see who’s home. You can visit as many or as few as you like, just be sure to wipe your feet!

Bermuda Home of Michael Douglas & Catherine Zeta-Jones

Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s Malibu Home

10 Silver Screen Leading Ladies at Home

Jennifer Aniston’s former Beverly Hills Home

Carole Lombard and Clark Gable’s Ranch Home

Elvis & Priscilla Presley’s multiple homes

Elizabeth Taylor’s Bel Air Estate

Jayne Mansfield’s Pink Palace

Helen Mirren’s New Orleans Bungalow

The Luxury Resort Birthplace of James Bond

Are you a fan of Architectural Digest? Did you enjoy seeing all of those glamorous homes? Do you have a favorite old movie star that you would love to have visited at home? Who’s home of today’s movie stars who you like to get an invite to see? Leave a comment and share your favorites!

Orange you glad I wrote this, 2

Several months ago, I wrote a post about using the color orange as a great seasonal color for decorating your home in Spring and Summer. (You can read that original post right here.) This was a very popular post with all of you readers. So, with the change of the seasons, I thought I would share some more ideas with you. Think of this as my own version of “give the people what they want”.

Orange might seem like an obvious choice for Fall. It is often right outside your window, in the leaves and sunsets of each day. But let me give you a much more personal reason I use it in my home: I cannot wear orange.

I am very fair-skinned, as is Mr. CARO, so there is no orange clothing hanging in our closets. Zero. Zilch. Nada. This is why I love using orange as an accent decor color in our home. I never get tired of it because it doesn’t exist too regularly anywhere in the rest of our lives. You can do this, too.

"Oranges On A Branch" by Winslow Homer, 1885 Image courtesy of art.com

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m certainly not suggesting you fill a room or paint your walls in a color that is not flattering to your own skin tone. Just consider using an off-limits-wardrobe-color as a colorful pop. You can use the “less is more” theory and mix the color, as a highlight of sorts, into your existing decor.

Do you have a difficult color when it comes to your wardrobe? Are you a redhead who can’t wear red easily? Are yellows unwelcome in your closet? Does cream make you look like a ghost? Everyone has at least one color like this in their lives. You can use it to your advantage in your home.

We’ll use me as a guinea pig today and run with orange, which is very easy to find in stores during the Fall. If I wanted to add some orange to the decor of my rooms, here are some of the great, affordable options I could use today:

There’s a little something for everyone here: modern, traditional, eclectic, global, minimalist and retro. I’ve used a neutral grey background for this mood board so you can all see how different shades of orange can really pop. For your (window) shopping pleasure, I’ve also linked all the items on the mood board to their retailer pages online below.

  1. Tree Orange & Olive pillow
  2. Red & Orange Mosiac filled candles
  3. Copper & Rust Weave table runner
  4. Marimekko Biloba queen sheet set
  5. Safavieh Courtyard II area rug
  6. Ceramic vase
  7. KASSETT magazine files

Does orange feel like a more approachable color for your home? Is there anything you saw on this mood board that is going on your “must-have” list? What other colors seem less-than-approachable to use in your home? Leave a comment and I’ll tackle them in a future post!

Boo-yah!

October is my favorite month of the year and I love that it ends with parties, costumes and a little silliness for all ages. And lots of candy.

That’s right. I said it. You are all thinking it, whether you steal…oh, excuse me…”safety check” Halloween candy from your own kids or try to look like every piece you scarf down at the office is your very first one. We should all just own it. The candy part is fun!

Image courtesy of wisconsinmommy.com

I also like the wicked decorations. There is something nice about seeing adults get into the spirit of a holiday, any holiday really, by putting up all the fun pieces around their home and offices. Do you decorate for Halloween?

I’ve noticed that some favorite catalogs getting in on the Halloween decor more and more over the past few years. There are some very nice, creative and ghoulishly wonderful items for the home out there now, so I thought I’d share a few lovely sources I have found.

Art & Artifact

This is always a lovely catalog to browse. I have bought accessories for client’s from this catalog and everything is as beautiful and well crafted as it looks on the page. Their Halloween items look great. Here are a two of my (linked!) favorites:

There is something very “Brother’s Grimm” to me about these metal jack-o-lanterns. Maybe it is the hammered metal finishes or their older, worn orange color. I just like them, especially since they nest together for easy storage later.

I also love these little jingle pumpkin lanterns. You can buy the vase, the lit branches and the jingle lanterns separately, if you want the whole look in the picture above. I love the idea of these little bells moving in the wind as trick-or-treaters approach your front door.

Grandin Road

Another great accessories and small furnishing catalog that makes me smile when it arrives. I have bought several of their Christmas decor items for clients and now it looks like their Halloween decor is really expanding. Pictured below are a few of my favorites and again, I’ve linked the pictures right to the items for easy exploring.

This “Spider double window poster” is only $12, which is about the same cost as one of those super-big bags of Halloween candy you can buy at party stores. They have a vampire version of this item, too, which is lots of fun. You just trim the poster to fit your windows and bring on the creepy music!

Martha Stewart has done some designing for this catalog, as you can see by her “animated snake wreath” pictured above. This wreath moves and makes noise (which you can hear on the online catalog page) as people approach it. I would love to put this on the front door when hosting a Halloween party!

ZGallerie

This catalog, which has some store front locations, is a great source for modern and transitional furnishings and accessories. Their Halloween items have a touch of glam and chic-ness that I don’t see many other places. My (linked!) favorites:

These creepy hands could be great, just mingled in with your regular decor. They would certainly make me look twice. I like the shiny metal finish that almost looks robotic, yet still oddly Victorian. Plus, they are actually rather lightweight and only cost $20.

Why have just black candles when you can have a bunch of black skulls burning at your party? I love the classic simplicity of these and the slick black color makes them almost too pretty to use. Zgallerie also sells a large, single version of these candles, but I like this six-pack for $13.

Victorian Trading Co.

This is truly one of my favorite catalogs. I love their Halloween items and I really love their Christmas items. There is just something lovely and old school about their product that makes them feel decadent, without a decadent price tag. If you like the look of their website, I urge you to sign up for their catalogs. They have great sales! Here are a my (linked!) choices for Halloween:

The image on this decoupaged wood centerpiece is taken from an antique nursery rhyme book. I love the wicked cats who are clearly up to no good. At only $25, I think this is a steal. Wouldn’t this look great on a mantle, too?

You know I like a good postcard as an art source. It would be so easy to choose your favorites from this selection of 3o postcards and frame them as spooky wall or table decor, just like I showed you right here and right here. Did I mention these are only $10? Such a deal!

Do you decorate for Halloween in your home? What is the best decoration you have ever seen at a Halloween party? Are you looking forward to the candy part of Halloween? I am already craving some candy corn! Leave a comments and we can all get in on the ghostly spirit of things!

Did you see yesterday’s giveaway announcement? Don’t forget to enter to win!

Have a wonderful holiday weekend, whether you are celebrating Columbus Day on the US or Thanksgiving in Canada. I’ll be celebrating my birthday this weekend and I hope you have something fun planned, too.

See you on Tuesday!

Re-booking your travel

We talked last week about great uses for old maps as an art idea for  your home. (You can read that original post right here.) Today, I’m going to show you a step-by-step guide for using your old maps to dress up the book shelves in your home.

I have used and taught this D-I-Y technique with several clients. I love it because it helps cut down on household clutter and the supplies are probably already in your home…making this project (potentially) FREE.

Intrigued?

Let’s start with this problem:

Guide books. Very useful, but what do you do with them when you are back home? Do you put them up on your bookshelf as a great memory? Do you put them on your book shelves with plans to re-use them on your next trip to that destination? Or do you save them to recommend favorite places to friends? Most people do one, if not all of these things. Those are some of my guide books in the picture, so I’m in the “most people” demographic, too.

Most people also have a lot of paper maps left over from their travels. Some of them have matching area guide books, some of them don’t. We’re going to use the old maps to carefully cover our guide books and make them look more interesting and sophisticated on our books shelves. Here are the supplies you’ll need and which you probably already have:

  • Guide books (any size)
  • Paper maps (which don’t have to match the guide book locales)
  • Pencil
  • Ruler and/or yard stick
  • Paper folder (totally optional, but handy)

For the purposes of this little tutorial, I’m going to use a guide book and a map that cover the same area of the world:

You can use any paper map on any book, though, including maps that don’t match the guide book or even non-guide books. But I use this technique mostly for guide books, since you can use the maps to identify the book’s subject matter easily after it’s flashy, colorful spine is covered. Let’s get started…

First, open up your map and decide what area of the map you want to be the front cover of your book. I always avoid the map legend and start with a corner edge because that means two sides of our book cover are already cut evenly.

I want the map of England to cover the front of my Great Britain guide book, which takes up most of the bottom right corner of the map. But I will have to measure and mark the map before cutting it out to the right size of paper. So, I’ll flip the bottom right corner over…

…and will now do my measuring and marking on the “back” side of my desired cover image.

Next, I need to measure my book and adjust those measurements onto the map for cutting.

The height of my book is 8 3/4 inches long. However, I will need extra length on the map cover so I can fold over the paper at the top and the bottom, making a sturdy edge. So, I add 2 1/2 inches to both sides of my 8 3/4 inch book height and…

…mark the edge of the map at 13 3/4 inches.

Now I need the total width of the book, so I open the book up and measure the two sides and spine as a total measurement. Can’t forget the width of the spine!

This measurement comes out to be 11 1/4 inches, but again, we want a sturdy edge on this part of the book cover so I add 6 inches to the total measurement, knowing that 3 inches of map will fold over the book cover on each side.

I also add an extra 1/2 inch to the total measurement, because a book spine is designed to flex and my map cover need to move with it. The extra 1/2 inch will give it the flexibility it needs. If my “guess-stimate” of 1/2 inch of give is incorrect, I still have plenty of extra map on the edge of the width to adjust it later.

This brings the total width measurement to 17 3/4 inches, which I use my yard stick to measure and mark onto the bottom of the map.

The next step is very easy. Just don’t push to hard on your pencil or you can tear old, well-worn maps! I draw a straight line up from the bottom map marking….

…and a straight line out from my marking at the side of the map…

…until they connect and make a box.

These are the only measurements and markings you have to make when you start your book cover using two sides of an already-perfectly-square map. It makes it easier and it can make it faster if you are making a lot of book covers.

I double check my measurement box by making sure make sure my book centers nicely in the markings…

…which it does, so I cut out the box I’ve marked out of the larger map.

Always “measure twice cut and once” in any D-I-Y project to save yourself a headache. Here is what I’m left with…

…a perfectly sized paper cover to fit my guidebook.

Now we can channel out inner middle-school self and fold the paper to cover the book. I’m going to show you how to do this, in case you have forgotten or are reading this from a place where children don’t have to cover their school books to protect them -lucky you!-.

First, we place our guide book face up and centered on the paper, since we want the reverse side of the left side of the map to be our cover. Then we fold up the bottom of the map 2 1/2 inches and make a crease where it meets the book.

Extend the crease to make a full fold, from edge to edge along the bottm edge of the map.

Then press the crease to make it very sharp and defined. Geek alert: I’m using the edge of a Martha Stewart paper folder tool in the picture below, but the edge of your ruler works just as well, just don’t tell Martha…

Now repeat the exact same steps that you completed for the bottom fold at the top of the map: 

  • Line up the book flush with the newly-folded bottom edge of the map
  • Fold the paper down from the map top to meet the book
  • Make a crease
  • Extend the crease to a fold along the total width of the paper
  • Sharpen the fold using your ruler

When you are done the total height of the folded map should exactly match the total height of the book’s spine.

Next, we fold in the two covers. Starting with the back cover of the book, for a good reason, we fold the right side of the paper over about  3 inches and slide the back cover of the book  into the “sleeve” created but the map folding we’ve already done:

DO NOT use the ruler to sharpen the crease of this fold yet! We may need to adjust the paper after we fold the front cover.

Now we fold on the front cover, just like the back cover:

Here is where we test the 1/2 inch of extra paper we allowed for the spine flexing. Does the book close easily with the new cover on it?

No. The map paper cover is too taut.

So we go back to the back cover of the book and fold the back paper cover to be shorter, meaning a little less than our original 3 inch measurement.

We take the extra “give” from the back cover measurement because the back cover of the book is opened less and gets less wear. The front cover of any book is always opened, so we want a secure paper cover on that side of the book.

Now we try folding the front cover of the book closed again to see if it closes easily…

Success! Now look at the very  front cover of the book. Do you like how the map lines up as a paper cover? If yes, now you can go back a sharply crease the front and back cover paper fold with your ruler.

You’re done!

This is a great project to include kids on, especially if they are already pros at wrapping their own school books! Plus, getting them into the mindset of cleaning out and repurposing items as you de-clutter helps get them into healthy habits for cleaning their own rooms. (Hmmmm…this post has turned out to be a Greener Living post, too.)

Another tip: Many people have laminated or plastic covered maps, like mine below:

However, if you have one of these cards in your wallet…

…your membership dues mean you get paper maps like these for FREE:

See? This is such an affordable project!

Here’s all of the guide books as we first saw them at the top of the post:

And here they are stylishly covered in your old maps:

Don’t they look so much more interesting, yet pulled together? Here they are looking much more chic in their covers on a book shelf:

Think you can do it? Time to clean out all those old maps that have been lounging in your car’s glove compartment! You can find another great idea for them in this post.

How many maps do you have lying around in your home? Can you offer to take unused maps from your family and friends to help them clean out and keep your project free? How many books will you cover using this project? Leave a comment!

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