A Pretty and Functional Den

I was visiting Mom recently and she gets pretty much every magazine there is. She had a copy of the Dec. 2010 issue of a really good home magazine, Southern Living.

I spotted a room makeover in this issue and was really impressed with the attention to detail, palette and design of the room. The article appears on pg. 72 and is called “Meet The Hassingers.” It is a story about a couple that met and married and then had to mesh their own personal styles. I am not sure what happened to this world, but apparently men also have opinions on design and style. When I was first married this was all considered the woman’s prerogative and frankly, my own husband never cared what I chose.

But, it’s all different now and that is a good thing. Anyway, if you take a look at the “before” photos, they are comical at best. They feature two giant brown leather recliners and for added measure a huge green leather (pretty sure we are talking faux leather here) wing chair, a sad window treatment and a super-sized TV above the fireplace. This must have been his home, not hers.

The transformation is fantastic. The designer chose a soft neutral grey green for the walls, a large sailcloth sofa big enough for two or four with masculine tacks and then to feminize the space, added bright pink and green pillows, hot pink vases with roses and colorful art to the walls.

But what most impressed me was the window treatment. So many people are skittish about anything but beige fabrics and this designer chose an ikat design drapery in a green, red, pink and gold palette. It totally pulls the room together. The TV is still atop the fireplace, which is ok since there are other interesting things to focus like the jute rug, artwork and accessories.

Of course, I have a few areas I would have treated differently. While the fireplace is not centered on the main wall and is flanked by bookshelves, I think the choice of recovering books with white or off white covers is weird. These shelves would be better suited with some interest, like greenery, and vases in the accent colors or even plain white vases mixed in with real book covers. I think the art on the left wall is hung way too low, as if only a three year old could appreciate it and the giant lamp hanging over the sofa is really difficult to sit beneath. A really big lamp in red or pink on the table behind the sofa would be great. I do like the comfy upholstered chairs that flank the fireplace but I am not wild about that cocktail table.

That said, the overall transformation really captured what the clients wanted – a comfortable and functional room in which they could relax and entertain.

Photos from Southern Living


A New Stenciling Project

We were so fortunate to travel to Cincinnati for Thanksgiving this year and visit with both our children and grandchildren. Of course, Mom came too. Our good friends, Mike and Ann Hall were visiting their daughter in Pittsburgh and offered us their home for our reunion.

Well of course we had the best time holding the new grandbabies, laughing, eating and visiting with each other. For a thank-you gift, I told Ann and Mike I would stencil their powder room. Now, I have stenciled many times before, so I should have known it would take me a long time, but I am ambitious and knew I could complete the project.

Mike and Ann are such great clients and friends. They completely trust me and this time that trust came in handy. We chose a stencil together from an internet site, but it failed to arrive on time. I found a stencil here in Rochester, changed the paint color we had chosen previously, purchased a valance and drapery rod and Mike and Ann took off for Pittsburgh without ever seeing any of it.

The stencil is a medallion style and I worked on it over the holiday until it was completed. I took some good photos for you so you could see the progress.

I will give you a few stenciling tips:

  1. Use a good stencil brush as the hairs from the inexpensive ones fall out very quickly.
  2. Buy the small bottles of acrylic paints, (they are about $1 a bottle and you need very little).
  3. Buy as thick a stencil as you can find and if it is less pricey, buy 2 so you can cut one for the difficult corners.
  4. Get yourself a can of spray mount so you can spray it on the back of the stencil. It will adhere to the wall and move very easily—tape just does not work as well.
  5. A roll of Scotch Blue Painter's Tape is a must for the baseboard work, around the light fixtures etc.
  6. Never be without a damp Handi Wipe or paper towel to clean up smudges.
  7. You need a good pencil with a clean eraser and a measuring tape and ruler.

Stenciling takes patience but it is truly one of the best ways to inexpensively decorate. And if you are unhappy with the way it looks, it is so simple to paint over it, unlike wallcovering that is so difficult to remove.

If you have any questions, e-mail me at beckybarras@hotmail.com or leave a comment and I will be happy to help!


ScotchBlue Alert!!

Can you believe it? I recently wrote an entry on “Baby Andy’s Bachelor Pad” and mentioned that I used ScotchBlue Painter's Tape when striping his nursery and they picked up on it! ScotchBlue tweeted about my project earlier today, so please take a look at their twitter page. They say "Baby Andy is lucky! Check out Becky's amazing striped nursery."

Since decorating Andy’s nursery, I have stenciled Adie’s hallway and my good friend Ann’s powder room, always using ScotchBlue Painter's Tape to guarantee perfect results! Please check out their twitter page today!


An Incredible Cranberry Salad

OK, I know most of you love that jellied cranberry sauce right out of the can with the ridges still on it, but sometimes there really is something more delicious you can at least try.

For many years, my mother-in-law experimented with new cranberry recipes – relishes, citrus dishes with cranberries that were way too orangey etc. etc. A number of years ago she served a wonderful cranberry/fruit mixture and I have been making it ever since. Just having made it recently for Thanksgiving, I thought I would share it with you so you could give it a try at your next holiday dinner.

Cranberry Salad
1 small pkg. raspberry jello
1 small can crushed pineapple, drained (save the juice)
Boiling water to make 1 c. when combined with reserved pineapple juice
1 large can mandarin oranges, drained
1 can jellied whole cranberry sauce
½ c. chopped walnuts

Dissolve jello in water/juice mixture. Add oranges, pineapple, cranberry sauce and nuts. You can pour this into a pretty holiday mold if you have one or just pour it into a serving bowl. Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours. This is not a thick jello, but just a nice, smooth salad. My mom loves this so much, she will make a recipe and enjoy it for days. And we all know how picky she is! Merry Christmas.