Monday, December 31, 2012

The Best of Years~2012

Well there was a lot to like in 2012!  I can't say I have had a year like this~so many wonderful things happened to me and looking back through old blog posts takes me to those specific places and times in an instant.  The end of a year is always a time for reflection and gratitude, and this year is no different.  I started out this year being a mom and wife with a part time long term decorating career under my belt. The blog was in its second year and going strong...but something amazing happened along the way in the spring~and life has not been the same since then! This is my year in review through the lens of my blog.
This post is all about the changes I was making in 
my home with decorating~I had a habit of constantly switching
things up~and this quick post shows some of the pretty changes that were happening around our home.
A lot of my blog posts featured ideas I came up with to solve problems,
like sitting on a cold leather sofa during the winter months in
New England.  This was a very popular tutorial about making 
easy quilted slipcovers.
While the quilted slipcovers were more country in style,
this glamorous accent wall was totally chic! Another one of my
popular posts that showed how you can create an expensive look
with this pretty paper from an unexpected retailer.
January was a super prolific month for me~
I was creating and doing and going strong...one of my 
all time favorite makeovers was my home office.
The readers agreed~what do you think?
February came along and I was still busy painting
and decorating and sharing it all on the blog.
This simple act of painting an oak staircase with white
paint seemed to resonate with a lot of readers.
This was a reflective post written on my birthday
thanking my parents for my extraordinary childhood,
and a chance to share with my readers a little bit more about me.
Along came the month of March and with it 
the introduction of a new Chalk Paint color:
Antoinette! Remember at this point in time I was 
a consumer of the paint, just using it and blogging about it...
I had no inkling that within one months time I would 
become a shop owner selling Chalk Paint for Annie Sloan!
All these posts are written exactly as I experience the paint,
and I find it so incredible to read what I truly thought 
of the paint.  It inspired many projects that I was happy to share
in the wonderful land of blog.
Another pink and french project I worked on was this
pretty vanity seat...you have to see how ugly it was before!
Creating the look of these doors for my bathroom closets
was part of a master bathroom makeover project I had 
begun in March.  This simple how to really was
 a major game changer in our bathroom.
This would be the last blog post I would
write before my life changed forever!  Its funny
that I was busy using Chalk Paint™ in so many
of my home improvement projects but had no clue
that I might want to become a Retailer Partner with Annie Sloan.
Well all that was about to change...here I write about how I plan
to attend Annie's Boston workshop in just a few days.
I was hurrying to try and get my bathroom done so I could share it with
a blogging buddy who was going to come and stay with me
so we could attend the workshop together. A fun read...

This was my photo diary and commentary about the workshop.
So many strangers would soon become familiar faces
and one or two would become my boss!!
 I had NO idea....
After the full day workshop I had been invited to a private
dinner party for Annie Sloan. Attendees were mostly stockists and 
retail partners~with the exception 
of 3 Chalk Paint lovin' bloggers of which I was one.
I found myself seated at the right hand of the ...no wait, that is a prayer.
I found my self seated at the right hand of Annie Sloan herself
for a memorable and life changing meal.
I took this shot of Annie Sloan and the women 
in her circle~from the top boss lady Lisa Rickert, 
to many of the stockists who would become my close friends.
It captured the essence of how good it can be when women
are arm in arm, hand in hand, working together and loving
the process and the results! It was a family that I was 
about to get baptized into...
this blog post announced my big news!
This post discusses the structure of the company, but that soon
would change as well.  I am no longer a "Retail Partner"
and now have a direct relationship with Annie Sloan Unfolded
and am considered a "Stockist" or a retailer for
Chalk Paint™ decorative brand paint by Annie Sloan.
At my new store I was busy painting furniture~I wrote
a post about how to make dark furniture into that shabby cottage look.
It became one of my most popular posts of the year.
This post shows how I impulsively painted my gilded french sofa with Antibes.
It also shows other happenings in the new Maison Decor shop.
I had a zillion emails asking me about the results of this paint job!
I went on to later paint it pink with Antoinette. 
Yes, you can paint your upholstery!
After painting the sofa I painted a set of faux
leather chairs with stunning results. These 
chairs now live at my house and are used day to day,
and after six months of use I can report that there 
are no signs of wear. So much cheaper than reupholstering!
A stencil for the wall in the shop was easy and dramatic!
Just when life was getting crazy, in July I got the 
bright idea to open another store in Boston!
yeah....I did....read about it here.
With my son Justin on board to head up the store,
we plunged in full steam ahead.
Behind the scenes of how we took this raw space
and in one months time got it ready to open!
 Justin, Colin, hubby and I worked our tails off getting it
all finished just in the nick of time. 
 I was so proud of our family's teamwork.
Our opening weekend on Labor Day 
exceeded our wildest expectations! 
We paid the rent two times over in that weekend~
and the phrase "Miller Time" became an unwitting 
way to announce one's success in the Annie Sloan circles
after this photo made the rounds~lol.
We continued to explore new ways to finish
furniture~and this pearlescent product was quite exciting!
Much of my time is spent teaching Chalk Paint™ workshops.
You can sign up online for these to learn the exciting things
that this paint can do for your home decor.  One of my other
favorite things I discovered this year was the power of gilding.
This post shows a lot of those products and the gorgeous results.
You can experiment with this product in our popular workshops.
At Maison Decor we are busy painting reproduction
mora wall clocks for our customers! This link will take you to 
the online shop where you can select your personal favorite.
Custom painted furniture is a big part of our business
at Maison Decor now.  This popular blog post shows how 
this French Linen Armoire inspired a customer to want her 
hope chest to take on the same look....she loved it so much she 
bought the armoire too!!
My obsession remains taking old worn furniture
and creating beautiful finishes with Chalk Paint~
this popular post showed off a music cabinet,
and the steps I took to get this look.
December brought more painting inspiration ideas~
like adding painted stripes to your pieces! My blog posts took a turn
towards all the activity now going on in my life as an
Annie Sloan Retailer and its natural that my home life
was going to take a back burner in the blog posts.
However many readers miss seeing my home and I hope 
to get it some blog time next year with a few exciting
home decor projects we have in mind.  
I'll still be painting lots of furniture next year~and teaching and blogging
too.  I have a few trips planned as well! I will be headed to New Orleans with Mr. Maison Decor to attend the annual Annie Sloan Stockists meeting.
 I was invited to attend a creative retreat in February by 
someone I think is the tops in her field! I can't wait to get more inspiration
and continue to share it all right here.  
One thing that is for sure~this year
would not have been a success for me personally without
my loving husband's support and encouragement.
He is everything I brag about on occasion and more~
it is not a glossed over version of the truth. I am one lucky woman,
and have so much to be thankful for with him by my side.
Years later and we are getting older for sure~
but together we will be forever and ever! What
a great feeling that is~better than the biggest sales days at the 
stores, or magazine mentions or diamond rings and new cars!
This is what it is truly all about....
And this too~
With so much pride in my family I can look back
on a year filled with highlights that give me great joy.
But none more so than what I find with my sons and 
my husband.  Sending you all my thanks for being
a blog follower or reader, a shopper, a painter with our paint
and most of all your friendship!
Happy New Year~and heres to 2013
and the bounty it may hold.


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Thursday, December 27, 2012

February Classes and a Silvery Grey Sideboard


 The latest painted piece in the shop is this Silvery Grey Sideboard. 
Its quite large and has great lines and storage.
 I found it at auction and this is how it came into the shop~
all two tone brown with scratches and scuffs but in solid overall condition. 
 I was going to go for a Gustavian look with this piece.
 This time I planned to use quite a few things like Chalk Paint
in addition to a couple of other things like the Artisan Enhancements 
Pearl Plaster and French silver gilding wax.
The piece got a coat of Zinsser clear  shellac after it showed me 
it was a bleeder...that meant I could see staining coming through the first areas
 I painted. After the shellac dried, I coated the piece in 
Annie Sloan French Linen for my base coat. 
 Then I mixed up a batch of Ironstone MMS milk paint 
and started applying that in a random and layered way.  
I followed that up with some Old White Chalk Paint
until I got the look I was going for~
It was looking soft and weathered and silvery grey....
You can see how the white would stick in the crannies of the piece...

After it was all dried I added Pearl Plaster to the Ogee edges and the fluted ends.
After the Pearl Plaster I waxed, then highlighted with Silver Gilding Wax.
You can see the understated sparkle~
It really looks lovely~!
If you want to get more comfortable with painting furniture using 
Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan consider taking one of my 
Introductory Workshops.  I refer to is as my "everything" class
because you will learn how to use the paint and the clear and the dark
waxes, when to do what and when NOT to do this and that...you will use the
French Gilding Wax and create take home samples to inspire!
My January classes are sold out, but not February.
 My February classes will be on Sunday Feb 3 and Sunday Feb 24. 
The 3rd has 4 slots left and the 23rd has 6 slots open...
so sign up early if you want to be included by going to my online shop.
You can see most of the furniture we have for sale and other goodies too,
 like our complete line of Chalk Paint books, brushes and fabrics, 
Pearl Plaster, Gilding wax, gift certificates and home decorative items.





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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Our Christmas 2012

Christmas Eve 2012
Our Family Scrapbook
The night had finally arrived!
Dillon waited in the living room for
the family members to arrive for our 
traditional Christmas Eve dinner party.
I was as prepared as I ever could be given the new
stores and the workload with that~so this party would just
be for our family this year, with no extras like we sometimes invite.
 Justin arrived first bringing some handcrafted gifts
 inside handcrafted gift bags!
This kid is like a chip off the old maternal block I have to say!
 Colin and Justin shared a moment in the kitchen with their dad, Barry, before we all moved into the living room for some cocktails and banter.

 The dogs were running around~they add a lot to the party.
 Lots of picture snapping went on throughout the evening~
Its nice that we are able to celebrate with Barry
 during important family times as it means a lot to the boys~
it didn't happen overnight, but now he is always included. 
This was his third Christmas at our house!
Then it was dinner time~the table was simply set 
with a white cloth and
sprinkling of blue opaline with silver flatware and 
a big tray for a centerpiece.
It looked sooo pretty!  
You can see the first Chalk Paint project I ever did in the corner~
my little bonnet topped secretary.
The candles were lit~
My family! 
Lets eat! I made a homemade sauce and then a lasagna 
with a big fresh salad and garlic toast.  
Mimi made a delicious pecan pie for desert.
 After dinner we went back into the living room to exchange gifts...word had leaked out about the Santa PJs that everyone was going to receive and it seemed they wanted to get right into their PJs! So we opened those first and then everyone scurried off to put their new PJs on.
Justin cracked everybody up with his appearance in his skivvies~
Brandon and Colin~
Barry was taking a pic of everyone in their PJs too
 Ok they were all in position~
but it wasn't quite a Christmas Card photo yet..
"Hands in the pockets"...."Turn sideways everybody"....
suggestions were flying!
 Then hubby told me to get in the picture~
I didn't have the same PJs cuz the womens sizes 
were all sold out except in XXL.  Nice for draperies maybe...
Anyway, hubby then told them to pick me up!! 
 It was really silly and funny and fun!
We were having a blast in the PJs....I totally recommend this for
your family gathering next Christmas! It makes everyone feel like a kid
again and you can't help but laugh and smile.
Then a pic of mother and sons....we couldn't stop laughing.
And then a pic of the boys with their dad....
We unwrapped a few gifts~but the night was really
all about fun family times and I know we will look
back on this Christmas with fondness.
We went to bed waiting for Santa~
 Mr. Maison Decor had a private conference
 with Mr. Claus a few nights before
and it seemed everyones wishes were about to be filled!
Christmas day was spent in our PJs and slippers....
with plenty of fun memories from the night before 
and with all of our lovely and thoughful gifts unwrapped~
it was the best of Christmases.


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