Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A kitchen update with apple green paint

A makeover using green paint and fabric!
I painted my kitchen and did a minor facelift on it three years ago.
The cabinets were maple and thats when I discovered 
Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint and used that to make a drastic improvement.
The photo above is the one I use on my blog to show off the painted 
cabinet results.  It really was quite remarkable, the before and after!
Last week I made another change to the kitchen using
paint, but this time, not on the cabinets. As you may know I am working
on a few projects around the house because Matthew Mead will be 
photographing the house for a feature in one of his new magazines due 
on new stands this spring!  Anyway, back to the kitchen.
Its been a fun way to add a little spark into a space that I love
but was looking to add a bit more personality.  Paint is the best
way to do just that.  Gina, my sales girl at Maison Decor
has been coming over and helping me knock off some of the 
projects on my list.   
Colin watched as I stepped back to take a pic of the action.  You can
see that I am painting my backsplash and display areas apple green.
Gina and I worked on either side of the kitchen and met in the middle.
The color is Folk Art by Ben Moore, but mixed up at
 Lowes Home Improvement using their paint, Valspar Signature.
 At the time I had originally painted my cabinets white
there was an inspiration photo of a kitchen that drove me to use 
purple transferware in the kitchen.  That kitchen photo had a lime green
backsplash and purple transferware.  I have never forgotten that photo and
this was the perfect time to see how it would turn out.  Repainting the 
backsplash would not be out of the question if I decided it fell short.
 This kitchen is in Carolyn Westbrook's book,
The French Inspired Home.
The mix of purple and green, the beadboard and white cabinetry,
 interesting lighting all added up to fabulousness!
Look at all that transferware!! 
There was a butcher block with white legs too, very similar to 
what we had in our kitchen. The only thing I was leaving out was
the antler collection, although I love the look.  My kitchen is just
too small to have all of that going on.
 My transferware collection continues to grow, and most
recently I purchased two pieces from Matthew Mead.
The platter over the stove is one of them, the other a serving
bowl that I keep napkins in on the butcher block island.
 The green paint reads more electric than it actually does
 in person, because of the interior lighting. 
 This kitchen is very dark and only has one window, 
so natural light is limited.  At the windows I decided to 
change out the lace panels for buffalo check in green and white. 
 The apple wreath I made at a Matthew Mead workshop looks
perfect hanging in the kitchen window.
 A vintage drain board sink was the easy and inexpensive way
to get the Farmhouse sink look.  At $75 on Craigslist, it is one
of my favorite improvements in our home and it was affordable too.
Still tweaking things in here, but for the most part I love how
fresh and fun it feels in here. And it all started with seeing an 
image in a book several years ago that I never forgot.  Use
magazine, book or online images to inspire decorating changes in 
your home.  It won't look the same as your inspiration photo,
nor should it.  But it will inspire design changes that are all 
about what make you happy.  And isn't that the point of decorating?
 On the other side of our tiny kitchen there is a dedicated coffee bar station.
This is being worked on as we speak...and speaking of inspiration
photos, check out this bookcase decorated with brown transferware.
 My passion for transferware has infected others as well. 
 Gina has starting a collection as has my sister Ellen.   I snapped
an iphone pic of this bookcase to show Ellen this week how she could
do the same thing in her house.  The next thing I know, she says she
wants to start a collection and would I help?  Of course!  
 Packages of brown transferware are on their way to her home right now.
We bargain shopped online and found some incredible deals on Etsy.
J&G Meakins Americana collection include this charming
sugar bowl featuring Martha Washington.  This transferware
is ironstone, not china.  It will be great for display or everyday
use.  Its more affordable than china, but still vintage and very
decorative!  Ellen's home will be getting a room or two made
over with my help soon, and you will see how this transferware
will play a big part in the makeover.  
Winter time is a great time to do indoor projects in New England.
So dig out those inspiration photos and get to work interpreting
them to fit your home, and watch how fun and fabulous your 
rooms become!  

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Taylor's Surgery

If Taylor could speak for herself, she would surely
tell you all how humbled and grateful she is for
the amazing response to her fundraiser.  We have been
blown away by how truly good people are, and how
many who have given to Taylor's heart fund are
those we have never met.  Connections made through this
blog and on Facebook are as real as any.  
People care.
Yesterday Taylor had her LVAD heart pump installed 
into her little body.  Its a pretty big pump and we were told to expect
her to be in surgery for 8 to 12 hours.  Justin and Madison were at 
the hospital, along with Taylor's parents, as they have been since
her hospitalization.  After Taylor was wheeled off to surgery,
Madison updated the GoFundMe site to let us know everything as
it was unfolding.  She said Tay was in great spirits.  
And then the waiting began.  
After about 5 hours in the waiting room Madison
and Justin left to get a breath of fresh air, and started walking down
the city streets that surround Brigham and Womens.  Shortly there 
after, Madison's phone rang and she was told that the surgery had
been completed.  Wait....what?! How could this 8 hour surgery be
finished in under 6 hours?? Was everything ok?  Did the pump
not fit into Taylor because she is so tiny?  All these thoughts raced
through Madison's head as she and Justin rushed back.
Turns out that our tiny Taylor is a champ!! 
She flew through the surgery with no problems at all, 
at the hands of one of the best surgeon in the 
country.  And to make things even better, she was soon 
recovering faster than any of the nurses had
 seen, as this surgery is rarely performed on someone this young.
Taylor is doing better than expected and for that we are all
so grateful.  We are very grateful for your generosity and your prayers.
Our family is blessed, and feeling strong.
Taylor is in good hands and has an army on her side.

To visit Taylors Heart Fund for detailed updates
and for donation information, click here.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Our family's heartbreak

As many of you know, my son, Justin Power
married Madison MacLean last October.  It was 
an intimate affair with the two families
and a few close friends.  We all watched
them share hand written vows, joining their
lives together, and as families we became
joined as well. What a beautiful wedding.

  That day Madison joined our blended Power/Chalmers family
 And the MacLeans became part of our family too.
 Of course long before the wedding we were doing 
family things with Madison's little sister Taylor 
like wearing doggy Christmas pjs and having sleepovers.
Holiday dinners like last Easter had Taylor joining us too.  
She lives and works as an occupational therapist in Boston
 and her folks live up in Maine. If Taylor can't make it to Maine
there has always been a place setting around our table for her.
So this is the part where it gets heartbreaking. 
Taylor was set to join us last Thanksgiving.
 But the day before Thanksgiving she was hospitalized.
She was having serious problems with her heart, 
and now needs a heart transplant.
  She was diagnosed with  cardiomyopathy
 at age 20,  but it got worse, and fast.
We can't quite come to grips with this....
it is just crazy how she was just dancing at 
her sister's wedding and working at her job and living her 
life doing things all young women do...like taking selfies
 and having fun with her friends and family.
Our happy days are in the rear view mirror right now
as we focus on doing whatever we can for Taylor.
Justin and Madison set up a fundraising website for her.
This will pay for the rent on her apartment and her 
college loans and any medical expenses that insurance 
won't cover while she fights for her life.  
So all good wishes, thoughts and prayers are most appreciated.
Any donation is such a gift to her, please know that.
We will all be standing by Taylor and praying that before
too long she will be back living her life with a brand new heart.
She is in good spirits and will be undergoing an invasive
heart surgery tomorrow to install the heart pump that will keep her 
in good shape for when the day arrives that she will have a new heart.
And to Taylor~
We are thinking of you Taylor. You are fun and funny, smart
and sassy, caring and an all around wonderful person.
You are so much fun and we love having you as part
of our family.  Sending strength and prayers to your folks and
your amazing big sister, our beloved daughter in law, Madison. 
We love you MacLeans!

Update:  Taylor received a new heart in December 2015 and is in recovery at home. Check on her updated status by clicking on the Heart Fund link above. 

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Friday, January 16, 2015

Getting ready for a magazine shoot

I am excited to tell you that Designer Matthew Mead will be 
coming to my humble abode this month to do a photo shoot
for his new Matthew Mead magazine series coming out this spring!
There will be 4 issues, and me and my home will be in his second one:
Its so awesome to be considered to be in one 
of Matthew Mead's beautiful publications.
Under the umbrella of designer, Matthew is known
for his fantastic photography and styling.
So he will be putting the touches on my home
and then shooting it~how cool is that?
Just like you can imagine, if all of a sudden you knew your home 
was going to be photographed, you would freak out, 
and then look around and get some of those projects you
have wanted to do, but never gotten around to starting.
Since I opened my store(s) almost three years ago, my
home has suffered from lack of attention.
So this was the perfect opportunity to spring into
action and have a little fun. 
I asked my design assistant from my shop, Gina Dechant,
to come over last week to help me.  A  new floor plan 
for the living room was first on the list.
Flipping a couch and carpet around to see if you like
it is not something I can do by myself....and if I ask
hubby I fear he may say he likes it just the way it is.
I wasn't sure the sofa would fit the way I thought it might.
It has always been in front of the windows.  After I started 
painting the piano, I wondered if maybe I could flip the sofa so
its back was to the piano, and center the seating on the fireplace.
So that is what we did, and I have to tell you...
we all LOVE it!
The windows are now opened up and exposed their full length
and the couch and chairs are
nestled in front of the fireplace ~ its so cozy!
I painted the backs of the bookcases with Duck Egg Chalk Paint
and its very pretty.  The chairs are vintage velvet in a celery green
and the toss pillows  are from HomeGoods.  Lots of white
with green and duck egg blue is in this room.  Wishing I could 
take better photos, and not be in such a hurry.  But my sister Ellen
informed me I have taken too long to put up my next post,
so these iPhone pics will just have to do.
Deciding on lampshades for the candlesticks lamps.
Neither of those I think will be the final choice.
Things have come from my shop into my home,
its fun getting it all freshened up.
Not only do I have the house to get ready,
the store is still calling my name.
We are having lots of winter workshops at Maison Decor.
Yesterday we had an Artisan Enhancements workshop
which has more decorative products like metallics
and crackle mediums that we use with Annie Sloan 
Chalk Paint to create special effects.
Here Gina Dechant shows how to apply an aggregate style
plaster through a stencil for a raised design on an artist canvas.
At the end of it all we had this~pretty neat, eh?
Of course we have bigger groups that take the Chalk Paint Intro class
I teach that is really my "everything class" for Annie Sloan paint.
Its a sellout every month and we have people who already use the paint
are telling us they have many lightbulb moments during the workshop.
So if you paint but want to learn much more, take out Intro workshop
as it really covers every base with the painting and the waxing.  
 I am coming and going and my furry pals 
watch me with great interest.
I just adore these two!
Sylvia and Dillon gave me the look as I got ready to leave for
work the other day. I had to take their forlorn faces, as if they 
were saying to me  "oh please tell us you are not leaving us".
Nothing I would rather do lately than stay home with them
working on things in my home. 
Painting, wallpapering, stapling ( as in the beautiful linen sheers
 I put inside the china cabinet) sewing,
creating, rearranging...I just love that this opportunity 
to be in the magazine has brought all of those pleasures back to me. 
 So thank you Matthew!
Please don't tell me you are coming any day soon as I still 
have a few more projects to complete.
And one is to finish off this piano.
And paint the kitchen backsplash.
And do something with my bedroom...
I will get it all done!
In the meantime~
He is everywhere these days!
And soon will be right in my own home.
Stay tuned peeps.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Finding your home's STYLE

Oh I know....yes, I am painting my piano.
Seems like painting pianos can make the piano painting police 
come out of the woodwork.  But listen, there are plenty of pianos
in the world left that are in their dark stained condition, so its OK.
Here it is the day it arrived. 
 My walls were a sunny yellow and it is just so funny 
to look at how many things have changed in this room.
I certainly have been finding my style and editing things
which will tie into this blog post, so let me continue....
I finally got around to this project that I have been 
wanting to do since the day we got the piano.  Well maybe not that day,
but after it was in our home where most things are light and soft, the 
darkness of the piano swallowed up that side of the room.  I rarely 
photographed the piano side because it felt out of balance with the rest of 
the house.  I remember the only question I asked Annie Sloan when I 
met her for the first time was this: "What color would you paint a piano?"
Now I realize it was much like many of the shoppers that come in my 
store asking me what color they should paint their table or desk or chair.
Annie answered, "Oh I would guess Old White..." to which I responded,
"Wouldn't that be kind of Liberace-ish"...a white piano? How about a pale
green?"  Now I realize how was she to know what color my darn piano
 should be painted!  And in the end, after sitting with it for three years, 
I painted it Old White.  Just like Annie suggested.  After all, Rachel Ashwell
of Shabby Chic fame had a white piano and it didn't look Liberace-ish at all.
So the point of this story is to say that sometimes something in our
homes don't feel like us....they don't feel quite right.  Either the style is wrong,
or the shape, the proportion, or the color is off.  And it can throw the room 
off or the entire house.  So how does one know what color to paint things,
or what fabrics to use, or what furniture to buy?
Figure out what your style is.  
Hmmmmm...its a bit harder than it sounds.  Many of us don't
even know what style we are.  If someone asked you today, what style is
your home decorated in, could you answer?  If you thought about it
and figured it out, it would make all those decorating decisions so much easier.
Enter this wonderful idea of Annie's that she turned into a book:
 This is a great tool to help you figure out just what your style is.
I think it came from one of our seminars that Annie held for us two 
years ago.  It was my favorite seminar by far~one on determining style.
She was advising us to pin down our styles for our shops. 
My shop has a Frenchy old European vibe.  Whether its a display
to entice shoppers to our workshops or setting up a furniture vignette,
I keep it in the defined style of Old French.
My son's shop, Pioneer Goods Co. (*now closed),  
in Boston's South End has a Vintage Rustic Americana style.
Justin is getting rave reviews on his shop from magazine editors 
and big time decorators when they step foot inside his shop.
Why?  Because he is ruthless about curating his vision for his shop.
Which is a good lesson for us all. 
 As stockists selling Annie's paint, 
that is the one thing we as stockists have in common.  But
it pretty much ends there, as all the independent shop owners have their
own take on presenting the things they sell.  And if there isn't a defined style
it can feel very much like a thrift shop experience, with a bit of this and a 
bit of that.  Nothing seems to flow and it all feels a bit of a mess.
 This applies to home interiors as well. Is your house like that? 
Do you want to figure out how to clean it up (style-wise)
 and have a stylish home?  Well this is one good way to start, 
by using Annie Sloan's Room Recipes for Style and Colour.
 Annie and her son Felix wrote this book and worked together touring
Europe and photographing real homes that had defined styles.  There are 
tons of pictures, but more than that, there is a guide to help you find your style.
Annie tells us that most people are a fusion of styles.  You may be a mix
of Coastal and Rustic Country.  I am a mix myself for sure.  And that is 
a mix that needs editing and redefining constantly.  Styles evolve and things
will come and go and as they do, if you have a handle on your style fusion
you will know pretty much at a glance if some object or color will work.
I am finding all of this focus on style particularly important right now.
Opening a shop or two or three or four in the last three years has taken
my focus away from my own home's interior decor.  All of my energy
has been on curating my shop, leaving my home as a poor Cinderella who
didn't get an invite to the ball.  Well no more!  I am renewed with 
purpose to edit, curate, paint and polish my living space.
I am drawing up floor plans again for each of my spaces, 
which helps me decide what should go where.
All of the projects I have been putting on the back burner are 
going to get done or at least evaluated this year.  The reason why its back on 
the front burner is two fold~one it is January 2015 and that always makes
me feel like renewing and organizing and taking a hard look at making
our home work more efficiently while being as pretty as it can be.
But the main reason I am working on my interiors again is that 
I was asked by someone special to have my
 house photographed for a special magazine edition!!
I will be giving decorating tips and tricks that I have used in 
my home and I am super excited about that.
I will share more of the magazine details later~what 
its going to be about and just exactly who is 
behind this exciting project.  
That is all I needed to get jump started and get the ideas I have
had started and finished and let my creative energy flow while
keeping in mind my home's interior style.
It's definitely French, some Cottage, and a bit of Rustic Elegance.
Thats fusion for you! So figure out your style and go edit and 
curate and make a beautiful home that feels amazing every time you
walk through your doors! 
Its a large hardcover coffee table book that is over 200 pages
long filled with decorating and style information, which is a bit
of a departure from Annie's normal books on painting.  I ate it up!
So get started already!! Its January 2015!! 
A whole New Year. 
A whole bunch of tools to help you find your style 
and create the home you will LOVE.

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