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Friday, January 21, 2011

It's All About Appearances. . .

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Wednesday, late in the afternoon a crack in the clouds opened and a few heavenly rays of golden sunshine found their way into my kitchen.  They spilled across my table and beckoned to me.  I had just spent the better part of the day cleaning out my office--no small undertaking--and I decided I deserved a little break.

I snatched up my latest copy of Country Living and collapsed in my yet to be slip covered dining chair, right in front of the glass back door to get the maximum amount of sunshine.  In moments I was pouring over lovely homes, feeling as though the sunshine filling the cheery rooms on the pages was actually warming my cheek as I flipped the pages and sipped ice water through a straw.

It was, however, short lived.  The bus arrived and dumped off my adorable and very chatty daughter.  By the time I had helped her with a few things and returned to my magazine, the sunshine was gone.

Pillow available on Etsy (Butterfly wreath also on Etsy)

I have a thing about pictures.  I love to look at them--in magazines, on photography blogs--and I love to take them.  Often I get an image in my head and I must work until I capture it in a picture.  Sometimes that means setting up elaborate displays like when Lisa and I decided to throw a Harvest Party.  It wasn't really about the party, it was about taking pictures of the party setup.

White Ironstone for sale at the shop


I sometimes get so caught up in staging the things I am taking a picture of, I might get carried away and spend more time than necessary to snap a few pictures and post something on etsy.  Because really, I am trying to make an impression, sell someone a story, give them a glimpse at someone else's life--hoping they will buy into the whole package, not just the item. . .  like I do when I flip through my favorite magazines, or browse my favorite shops on etsy.

Paper garland at the shop and on Etsy


Take yesterday for instance.  Lisa and I had sewn a few aprons.  Some for the shop and some for esty.  When it came time to photograph them, I had a vision of working in my kitchen, filling a vase with flowers while wearing a cute little apron. That was easy enough.  I had some flowers, so I put them in a white pitcher and staged them next to me.

White Swiss Dot Apron (picture must have worked--I listed it last night and it sold last night!)

But then, when I put on the white and red apron, it made me think of Valentine's Day and baking a surprise for someone special. . . so I HAD to bake a cake. . . and add it to the picture.



I have sort of had a butterfly thing going.  I got hooked on some butterfly art last fall and have been waiting until now to start bringing some more into the shop.  So I added a couple candy melt butterflies to the cake--it just felt more Valentine-ish that way, without resorting to hearts.



In the end, the cake is hardly a big feature in the picture (though from this angle the lint on the floor is!).  But I think it adds something.  I am no expert on staging, by any means (or photography for that matter)--but I sure have fun doing it!  And the kids didn't care what I was doing it for if it meant they got cake with cream cheese frosting for dessert.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Little Restraint. . .

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I sort of have an addictive personality. . . Hence my decor business.  I bought more than I needed so I decided to sell things to give me an excuse to keep buying cute things! But as a rule, I try to avoid collecting too much of any one thing.  I think it would be too easy to just keep buying something because I "collect" it. Add to that, people who know you tend to find it an easy thing to always give you.  So eventually you end up with a thousand snowmen, or birdhouses, or penguins.  Then one day you find yourself being crowed out by a thousand staring penguins that you don't actually like anymore and haven't a clue how to go about getting rid of--let alone telling everyone to quit buying them for you.

Or maybe I just made all that up in my head.  Either way, there are few things I collect.  I have collected blue Fire King dishes over the last few years in spurts, though my collection will still fit on one shelf in my hutch.



I have also collected some ironstone, though again, not any great quantity yet--more because I won't pay what is often asked, and I don't come across pieces I love as often as I would like.



My husband would argue that I collect shelter magazines. . . and truthfully he is probably right.  But I use them all the time. It's like a reference library, a source of inspiration, a mini escape when I get a chance to sit still and do something fun.

But that's about it.

Lately, I have had a thing for birds.  I must not be alone, because you might have noticed the plethora of bird related things out there, not to mention the bird/nest related home blogs.  There is something simple and homey about birds and nests, I think.

It has become a bit of a joke between Lisa and me.  I see a bird and say "Oh that is cute!"  She rolls her eyes and says "Really? I wouldn't have guessed you'd think that!"  And occasionally she will concede that it IS quite cute.  But I try not to buy every cute bird thing I see for fear of becoming the lady who collects birds.  And then each bird will loose its value and it will become more about the collection and less about the individual birds.

So I have practiced restraint and only purchased a few birds.

It started when a friend gave me this cute little terra cotta bird for my birthday in 2009.



I followed up by purchasing this cute pillow on etsy from WhiteTwig the next month.



Then I practiced restraint and merely admired birds until my next birthday when I purchased myself this adorable chippy little dove at an antique store. . .



Then came House of White, and my admiration for all things bird has found an outlet. . . though I am still practicing restraint!  It started with this silhouette pillow (for sale in the etsy store):



Last week I was at the Good Will and couldn't pass up the cutest little rooster.  He may have been pale green and yellow, but I thought he was cute, none-the-less.  I was so quick to give him a fresh look I forgot to take a before picture, but I think he turned out really cute.



He is headed to the shop along with this collection of items that coordinate nicely with his new look:



Now that I know every bird I feel the urge to purchase won't be collecting on my every surface, I may let myself pick up a few more and bring them home with me. . . even if it is only for a short visit on their way to a new home.

What do you collect, or find hard to pass up when you spy one?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

To Glaze or Not to Gaze. . .

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Despite the fact that we are called House of White, I like a little variation in my finishes.  White, after all, isn't really one color--it's a myriad of subtle shades, which don't always make a subtle statement!  So when painting our furniture and accessories, we choose from a half dozen of our favorite shades.  Sometimes I have a hard time deciding if a piece should be creamy white, or pale gray, or have a hint of blue. . . other times it's as though the chair or dresser is whispering "Make me blue!"--like the chairs I am working on right now.

But the indecision doesn't stop there.  Should I keep is a clean solid painted surface? Should I sand and distress it?  Should I antique and glaze it?  I have tried several antiquing glazes and after many not so great results, I found one I liked.  It was a simple glaze found at the craft store in "mushroom" that I added to a glazing medium.  But I ran out recently and instead of making a special trip to the craft store I picked up a different one at the hardware store since I was already there.  It is darker than the mushroom color, but for some things, I think I like it.

Take these wood candlesticks, for instance.  After some debate, we painted two cream (that were peach before!) and two pale blue (that were dark wood before).  And I quite like them as they are.



But I decided to glaze them and try out the new glaze.  They had some interesting details that would stand out more with the contrast.



But after I glazed them both, I decided that while I liked the cream ones, the blue ones were too contrasty.



What about you?  Do you have any favorite glazing/painting techniques?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Making Things Up As I Go

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Usually when I start a project I take time to plan it all out.  I often sketch rough drawings to get a clearer idea of what I am trying to achieve.  But sometimes, I simply get an idea in my head and I go at it with only a vision and a lot of enthusiasm.  Occasionally things go awry--but my dahlia pillow was the result of a mistake I made and I loved how that turned out, so I don't usually worry too much, unless my materials are expensive and I don't want to screw them up.  Generally speaking though, things work out.



For instance, right before Christmas I got the idea to make some white ruffled placemats. Simple enough I figured, so I just started cutting and sewing with a vague idea in my head and modified it as I went along.  A short time later I had four cute ruffled placemats:



I took them to the shop to set up a table under the snowflake mobile I made.  And that would have been that, except. . .



A day or two later one of the shop girls called to tell me that a woman wanted to buy them, but she wondered if I could make four more because she needed eight.  Of course I said yes--then I scrambled to remember the dimensions and how long I had cut the ruffle strips and how far from the edge had I sewn them anyway?  It is a good thing I had made four, because having done it four times I remembered most everything, and luckily the one thing I couldn't remember (the ruffle width and length) I had cut an extra one the first time, so it was still sitting there in my workroom.  I'd show you, but of course I rushed them right over and didn't take a picture.

You would think this would be a lesson in writing things down--but as I type this, I realize I STILL didn't write down the instructions and sizes.  Well actually, I did scratch down the dimensions from memory before I made the second set, but who the heck knows where I put THAT piece of paper.

So the moral of this story?  Write down what I did--and put it in a safe place where I will find it again.  It will really make my life easier.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Fresh Starts and Fresh ideas. . .

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Happy New Year!  A little late, but heartfelt none-the-less.  I have a confession to make.  My husband has been home on vacation since December 19th. . . the last day I posted.  AND he doesn't go back to work until next week.  When I am trying to work he comes in with an impish grin and says, "Let's go. . ." where doesn't matter--he makes it all sound so fun, even if it is only, "Let's go make homemade bread!" or "Let's go clean the kitchen together."  SO, when I should be saying, "I need to work."  what my mouth actually says is, "Okay!"

See my dilemma?  When we both work together we get things DONE.  But when we both are together doing separate things. . . we get things done, just not the things we should be doing!

Today I am getting back to work, really.  Though, I might try to squeeze in one more house project this week.  But I will take you along and show what we are up to.  I think you might like it.

Just to make it harder to focus, I have gotten the bug to redo my daughter's bedroom.  It hasn't been done since we moved here over three years ago.  I did it up beautifully in Utah when we lived there.  When she was a baby it looked like this:



Then when she got her big girl bed we redid the whole thing to look like this:



Then we moved.  And her stuff made the room look fine, though I didn't paint--even the curtains came with the house.


(I did snatch the chandelier from the old house though--it was a baby gift from my neighborhood friends.)

But the other day Signe saw this picture and decided her room needed a makeover:

(Country Living)


I think since her sister has an antique iron bed in her room I will not do iron.  I am leaning towards a Jenny Lind style bed but all the ones I am seeing are on ebay for fabulous prices but mainly on the east coast and largely local pick-up only.  The search will continue.  It will be sad to take out her twin beds.  We made those when she was two for the whopping cost of $35 each.

While I was browsing the Goodwill the other day I came across this table:



When I was looking it over I spied a big ugly spider on the under side and my husband refused to kill it for me.  So I called over a friendly employee and informed her I was interest in the table, but no so much the spider--and it's two egg sack nests!  So she in turn called over another employee--a boy--who put on a glove and hauled the spider off--ALIVE!  Eww.  I know the idea of saving the spider is nice and all, but if he put it outside in the 25 degree weather. . . but back to the table.

I think I want to paint it and put it in Signe's new room on one side of the bed with a cute little chair.  I also picked up this great frame for not much and the painting itself is on a board rather than canvas.  That will make painting chalkboard paint right over it a snap.  Don't you think that would be cute above the made over desk?



I get so excited when inspiration strikes and I just want to go at it.  But my room make-overs are never quick, unfortunately.  I will keep you posted on the progress, slow though it may be.

In the meantime, I need to revamp the etsy shop and restock the store. . . unless Rob pops down here to ask if I want to go running or something--because as awful as that sounds, he has convinced me to do it the last three days in a row!

Wish me luck--and focus!
 
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