Ornamental Plaster Sculpting, Mural Painting, Faux Finishing, and Imaginative Interior Design.

Ornamental Plaster Sculpting, Mural Painting, Faux Finishing, and Imaginative Interior Design.
CLICK ON THE RABBIT ( yes, those are cabinets) TO SEE MY PORTFOLIO, AND LEARN MORE ABOUT MY SERVICES...theartofthehome.com

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Jalapeno Pepper Popper Dip

A few days ago, my favorite curmudgeon (It's okay, he prides himself on his incompatibility with 95% of the human population, so he won't be offended), Dan, rang my doorbell and handed me two grocery bags full of peppers.  One mostly hot, one probably mostly not.  He was off to Duluth for several days, and didn't want them to go bad in his fridge.  Um...and he thought I would have time and use for a year's supply of peppers this week???  I managed to give some to friends, threw a lot of them into salads, and peeled skin off of the roof of my mouth only once.  Oops.  I'll try to freeze some, string some of the really hot ones to dry, and maybe pickle the little miniature bells, if they'll keep another couple of days.

Pretty...'til they bite back!

There are a lot of jalapenos in the mix, and thinking of those got me craving my friend Lupe's oven baked poppers, but I didn't want to fiddle with cutting and filling.  Besides, there's bacon in her secret recipe, and I wasn't in the mood to smoke up the whole house, which due to my inability to stay put and watch the skillet when there's nothing to stir, is what always happens when I fry bacon.  I decided to experiment with a dip version of this appetizer.

Like most of my recipes, this is a "wing it" sort of a thing.  Use whatever mix of spicy and mild peppers you have on hand.  Here's what I used:
  3 medium sized jalapenos
  1 bell pepper
  2 mild banana peppers apx. 5" long
  1 screamin' hot little red chili pepper
  1/2 medium onion
  1 medium tomato

I removed all of the pepper seeds, then diced all of the above very fine, and tossed the lot into a skillet with about
  1 tbsp butter
and sauteed it for a couple of minutes.  Jalapenos lose most of their fire when cooked, but the chili doesn't.  If the poppers at your local pub are usually about as spicy as you can handle, leave out the chili pepper.  Also, if the bacon idea appeals to you, fry up a few slices, use the fat to sautee the pepper mixture, and crumble the bacon into the finished dip.

Once the peppers and onions are soft, stir in
  1/2 package of cream cheese or Neufchatel

Stir while this melts enough to blend, then add
  a splash or two of milk
and stir/add more milk/stir until you have the desired consistency of dip.  It will thicken a little as it cools.  If it's a little too spicy, add more cream cheese, or even plain yogurt.

Enjoy with corn chips and good beer, margaritas, apple juice, or lemonade.

You eat that, while I finish painting a few things.  Hopefully at least one of the eight projects I have in the works (aside from pepper preservation), will be finished and photogenic by Friday, so check back Saturday morning to see where I've been slinging paint this week.  If you haven't already seen my portfolio, you can check it out right now at theartofthehome.com, and if you are working on a project of your own and have a question you think I might be able to answer, don't hesitate to email me.  dawnmariedelara@gmail.com.

Monday, September 26, 2011

St. Paul Saturday

I really do have some seriously cool friends, as you may have figured out from the last few posts.  I spent this Saturday with two more, Cat Isles (bridgingtheuniverse.com), and Ann Viveros, (web.me.com/annviveros). 

Cat and Ann, Saturday morning, city style.
We planned a girl's day out, up in the cities, with Ann in charge of the itenerary, as she lives and works on the north side of Minneapolis.  We started with a plan to hit some funky junk and thrift shops, in Minneapolis and the northern suburbs, but that changed when Ann's neice suggested Sophie Joe's, and the restaurant on the same block, Day-by-Day Cafe, in St. Paul.  A quick look at websites informed us the cafe's hash browns have been rated "best in the Twin Cities" by the Star Tribune, and that pretty much decided it.

I started Saturday morning with a full tank of gas, but an empty coffee pot, so had to stop at the Kwik Trip for a very tall, very dark, slightly sweet and creamy cup of wake-up juice.  This scene as I pulled in, assured me that all is still right with the world, at least in my corner of it...
Saturday morning, small town style.  Three bikes, three fishing poles, three boys in the store stocking up on candy bars.
I met up with Cat in Jordan, and she drove us up to Ann's place, where we got a tour of her garden, before heading for St. Paul.  After breakfast at Day-by-Day Cafe, where the hash browns were indeed quite nice, we walked up the block to Sophie Joe's Emporium (sophiejoes.com).  Sophie Joe's, like many antique stores, has vendor spaces packed cheek to jowl, but unlike antique stores, the merchandise here is everything from brand new to slightly used to vintage, with a few antiques sprinkled in.
Collaged mural on the front of Sophie Joe's Emporium
There was every kind of teacup and glass doo-dad imaginable, a pair of Doc Martin wingtips for thirty bucks, that were sadly a size too small, and lots of vintage, new and nearly new clothing to tempt us.
That's Ann, back in the racks, wearing her wild zebra pants, and eyeballing a leopard print top.
I scored a bizarrely oversized ceramic frog, and a tiny pressed tin treasure box with a pretty pattern, but though I tried on nearly every hat in the place, didn't manage to find quite the right one.  What I really want is an antique top hat (reminder to friends:  birthday coming! :) )Still, this stall kept me happy for quite awhile...
A hat for every head but mine.  Sigh.
By the time we left Sophie Joe's, which was huge and packed to the rafters, we were all sort of blitzed on shopping.  We made a half-hearted foray into the St. Vincent DePaul Thrift Store next door, and did find a pillow cover in orange silk for Ann, and a green glass votive for Cat, then headed back to the car.  Ann had heard there was a plant sale at a place called Egg/Plant, so we headed there for a change of scenery...
You can't have chickens in the city limits of Belle Plaine, a farm community of 5, 000, but the City of St. Paul, like many cities across the U.S. is embracing urban farming.  Go figure.

I grew up organic gardening on a subsistence scale (though we did buy raw whole milk and eggs from a local farm, rather than raise our own), so I kind of got a giggle out of this store.  Who knew you could buy pre-packaged bags of compost, and fish fertilizer in prettily labeled bottles? Shoot, if you don't want to have a compost heap like mine (a ring of wire fencing on the back side of the garage), and if you can't get the fish heads from the neighbor kids(to bury with the plants that like that sort of a boost), you can buy all the same stuff, without the pretty lables, out here at Belle Plaine Country Store, for a whole lot less!  Of course, we can't keep chickens in the city limits out here, so I won't giggle too loudly at the city farmers!

As we headed back through Minneapolis toward home, Ann, Cat and I ended the day with a stop at Wilde Roast, where we had lovely coffee, served by lovely waiters, and a huge hunk of carrot cake, that was only handed over after a strawberry fan was beautifully cut, and placed on the plate with it.  Ahhh, perfection.  Though Portland, Oregon has been my favorite city since childhood, and Minneapolis has it's charms, St. Paul is truly a delight, if you like cities of old stone and brick buildings, and quirkily laid out streets.  If I wasn't so content in my beautiful old house, in my cozy small town, I might consider living in St. Paul...if only for the hash browns!

I don't spend all my time playing with my friends.  You can check out my portfolio, and the decorating services I provide, at theartofthehome.com.

If you are working on a decorating project yourself, and run into questions, feel free to ask.  If I have a solution to your dilemma, I'll be happy to share.  dawnmariedelara@gmail.com.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Looking for the Old Barn Boutique?

Google may have sent you here, but it's not me. I can't tell you much, but...

In previous years, I've stopped in and found lots of country style handcrafts, painted vintage furniture, and some not painted, maple syrup and honey and I think preserves.  Lots of autumn stuff, and lots of winter and christmas decor, quilts, and whatever is currently trending in country style vintage collectibles.  Prices seem to range on the lower side of reasonable, with higher priced items being time-consuming hand crafts and better quality vintage wares, which seemed perfectly fair.

The signs are up for the season and they say September 19-22, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Most years, I've noticed that they extend to the weekend after, so you PROBABLY have two weekends to shop.  I keep meaning to track down her phone number and see what else I should say, but I never think of it until I see the sign up, and I'm usually busy, and so the best I can do is sit here at midnight updating the basics.

 I can tell you it's just North of Belle Plaine on hwy 169.  If you are coming down from the cities, it's after Jim's Apple Barn (big bright yellow barn about five miles past Jordan).  As the highway rises and curves slightly, get ready to turn left.  If you miss the turn, there's an old gas station up ahead, on the left, where you can easily turn around, without getting traffic up your tailpipe.

After shopping, come the rest of the way to Belle Plaine and check out Emma Krumbee's Scarecrow Festival.  I think the food is much better in the General Store than the restaurant, if you decide to eat there.  If you want really good food, head back toward Jordan, and after you go back past the Apple Barn, watch for the little place called "Suzette's", next to the OK Corral.  It has city prices, but really good gourmet food.

While you're here on my blog, click "home" to read the latest posts, and see what I do, when not trying to maintain a neighborhood bulletin board, or pop over to my website, theartofthehome.com.

Just the Right White

This week, one of my clients asked me to paint an old vanity "white" for her.  Have you looked at the selection of whites on the deck of paint chips at your local paint store?  You have about a hundred options from which to make your selection, but wait, that's not all!  Did you want an antiqued white finish?  There are about a dozen more options for applying your chosen white that will give it varying degrees of age and wear.  Here are three of my most popular "Antiqued white" finishes:

"Cottage White Distressed"  This is the one for when you want it to look like Grandma painted this fifty years ago, and it's been banged around mercilessly since then.  I do my distressing while the paint is still just barely wet, rather than sanding back after it dries.  For this finish, I don't use a bonding primer, so it's important to use a self-priming paint that is compatible with any varnish or poly that is on the piece, then as long as adhesion is reasonably good, you're fine.  The charm of the look is in the chips, after all.  I like Benjamin Moore's Super Spec D.T.M. for this.

"Aged Elegance"  This is white with an umber overglaze.  This is what I do for a client that wants it to look like a well cared-for piece that is yellowing with age.  Sometimes, I wipe back so much of the umber that you don't really even know it's there, unless you compare it to an unglazed piece.  It just mellows the paint a bit.  For this, I use a bonding primer (Zinsser shellac based is reliable, and they have a new one out that I'm trying out that is waterborne, but behaves the same for stain blocking, they say...I'll let you know).  I follow the bonding primer with two coats of Benjamin Moore Satin Impervo, waterborne (love, love, love this enamel!!!), then a glaze made from D.T.M. base for darkest colors, with some umber tint mixed in, thinned just a bit with water.  Using paint base rather than a glaze product feels a little more reliable on the bonding.  I don't want the glaze to come off when a client washes their cabinet doors!

I call this a "MacKenzie Finish", as it was originally designed to match the streaky white in original MacKenzie-Childs pottery.  The effect is like tannin bleed through old white paint.  It's great for when you need to use a bonding primer, but you want it to seem the wood grain is showing through.  I use the BM Satin Impervo, in Linen White, custom tinted umber, and some of the white tinted with yellow ochre.  I brush on the white, then brush the other two colors into it while it's still wet, blending as I go.  The trick is to have a feel for where the color would be on a real aged piece.
  Here are the three closer:
"Cottage White Distressed"

"Aged Elegance"

"MacKenzie Finish", lightly distressed.

Of course, white is not the only color to paint cabinets and furniture.  I"m doing a black rub over walnut stain on another piece for the same customer, and below are a couple of popular choices:
"Ember Rub" is a black rub over a red oxide base, with a lot of the red showing.  I literally hand rub most of my finishes, while the paint is wet to barely dry.  Very bad for manicures, very good for "Wow" factor.

Black rub over gold gives you the elegance of gold, toned down for slightly more casual lifestyles.  I use Modern Masters Metallics.

Of course, an umber glaze will gently age any color.  This soft green is a Benjamin Moore color, I think Nantucket Green (maybe Nantucket Gray?), but don't hold me to that!  I crafted the bee detail especially for this client.
 I should mention at this point that, no, I do not get a kickback from Benjamin Moore, though if anyone from their company reads this, I wouldn't turn down your advertising dollars!  I have had consistent results with this brand, which I can't say of some of the other premium brands.  I do also use two Midwest brands, Hirshfields and Diamond Vogel, though not for cabinets and furniture.

To see these finishes on cabinets, click on over to my website, theartofthehome.com, and click on the "cabinets and furniture" page.

If you are trying this yourself and need anything clarified, feel free to email.  dawnmariedelara@gmail.com

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tea For Three

Cindy and Jim, both of Minnesota Officiants (minnesotaofficiants.com) standing at the back door, dreaming and scheming of weddings in this gorgeous venue. 

Yesterday, I had the most perfect afternoon.  Jim Albani, whom you met in the last post, treated my friend Cindy and me to High Tea, at the Cedarhurst Mansion (cedarhurstmansion.com).  It's south of St. Paul, in Cottage Grove, Minnesota.  This Greek Revival style mansion was built in the late 1800's, as a country house for a wealthy family, whose guest list included four U.S. Presidents.  The mansion is still as grand as ever it was, but the atmosphere wasn't stuffy at all.

This is referred to as the library, even though it only has a few small built in bookcases.  I'd be callin' it the ballroom, if it was my house, though knowing me, it would be overtaken in no time with ever larger art projects! 
We wandered about a bit, peeking into the main floor rooms, Cindy admiring the chandeliers, me the plaster, and Jim reading the historical notes posted in each room.

One of the tea rooms.  The china displayed throughout the rooms can be purchased. 
Our server was one of the owners, and she kindly answered all our questions about both the food and the mansion.  The menu consisted of a perfect cranberry and white chocolate scone with Devonshire cream, Waldorf salad, mushroom quiche, three tea sandwiches (including a tomato in vinaigrette that was fabulous), a chocolate dipped strawberry, a cupcake with berry sauce, and lemon sorbet in champagne to finish.

This parlor was just past our table.  I could have easily curled up on the sofa for a nap after tea, but Cindy was itching to get a peek at the barn.  Yeah, I think it's an obsession with her.  She's never seen a barn she didn't like.
It was the perfect amount of perfectly prepared food, served at a leisurely pace, spiced with great conversation, and after weeks of working straight through my days off, exactly what I needed!  I'm rested up, and ready to paint again!  Thank you so very much, Jim!

The current owners tackled painting the columns themselves,  copying one their designer sampled for them.
Although the paintwork in this post is not mine, I do similar things, which can be seen on my website, theartofthehome.com.

If you are tackling a project of your own and run into questions, drop me an email, and I'll share whatever I may know.  dawnmariedelara@gmail.com.

Monday, September 19, 2011

From out of the dust...

If I could shoot video, I would have loved to make a movie of yesterday's function, shot in sepia, like an old silent film...
I do not get credit for the sculpted and (properly) gilded lettering for this sign.  Though not what he does professionally, it was created for Cindy by her friend George, whose regular work can be seen at carvingart.com. 
In my movie, Cindy Faus Heimerl, wedding officiant, and intrepid owner of Marion's Place and it's barn, Rubies & Rust, would be the gorgeous heroine...

...and I would be the villainous bridesmaid-from-hell, with Jim Albani as the bumbling priest:
Don't be fooled !  The villain is always the one with the saw, though in this case, I think the priest looks a little sinister!

 Of course, if I could shoot the movie, then I would have to write something with an appropriately melodramatic plot, and the only thing dramatic yesterday, was the barn itself.

The main level is a bright space, set up as the back-up spot for outdoor weddings at the farm.  With it's lovely faux stone walls (much admired by last night's guests, as I stood wielding my circular saw), park bench seating, and charming table settings, it's the perfect place to say your vows and begin your reception.

Coincidentally, the two on the left, Carol and John,  happen to be clients of mine, as well as friends and business associates of Cindy.  The gentleman on the right, who I'm pretty sure is named Jon (oddly enough, nearly all of the men last night were named either John or Jim, so forgive me if I'm second guessing my memory of names) is another brave male who has hung out with the Third Thursday Artgroup, and survived to tell the tale!

Guests who have never seen Cindy's barn are always fun to watch the first time.  I tried to catch Joe's open mouthed awe as he arrived at the top of the stairs, but had to settle for the delighted grin that followed.  This is why I don't get the big bucks as a photog.  Apparently no one ever buys the frame after the money shot.  Sigh.

And of course, if I could shoot video, I would also have the skill to shoot the length of the barn and have it show up like it looks in real life.  Still, though I couldn't capture the romantic sepia lighting that shows off the ribbed arch of the ceiling, the photo above gives you an idea of the scale.  Now, check out the rest of the setting...

Across from the top of the stairs is a cozy double parlor grouping, backdropped by a massive old mantle that frames a few antique stained glass panels.  Even without a true fireplace, it draws you in for a cozy glass of wine and good conversation.

Down both sides, nearly the full length of the barn, there are dining and cocktail tables, every setting different from the next, but each as charming as this one...
At the far end of the upper floor is a small stage.  Last night, the notorious Ruby La Fey (Cindy's story teller alter ego) told the story of the beginning of the barn's transformation, which included a large number of creepy crawly critters, and a sneak attack by...the well pump???  Jim Albani, of Minnesota Officiants (minnesotaofficiants.com), hammed it up a bit for the evening as Father Jimmy-John, and took a turn on stage to tell some funny and touching wedding stories, like his warning to brides: Many leafy trees in Minnesota contain nuts that begin dropping in late summer, so consider what's overhead before opening your mouth to speak.
My role for the evening, aside from co-decorator, last-minute carpenter (you owe me one, Bucko), and chili cook, was Bridesmaid From Hell.  I wore my favorite hikers with my lovely lavender gown, in honor of my first experience as a bridesmaid, in which the bride literally had nightmares of me arriving late and running down the aisle in my long peach gown and my hiking boots.  Yeah, imagine worrying about that.  (I was not late to that wedding, but if you are new to this blog, and/or don't know me personally, suffice it to say that I live in a slightly altered timezone, and though I love the art of fashion, especially vintage and theatrical fashion, I generally go about in what would best be called "paint rags".)

I shared this story during my turn on stage, beginning a short ramble, loosely based on the decorating compromises of couples I work for, my own experiences in the realm of decorative compromise with a significant other (or two), and why, in conclusion, my chances of ever needing the services of  Minnesota Wedding Officiants are pretty slim.  Apparently, "I have a Skilsaw, and I know how to use it" is not an approved pick-up line in the Girl's Guide to Dating handbook.  Huh.

Dawn-Marie deLara (theartofthehome.com), Jim Albani (minnesotaofficiants.com), and Cindy Faus Heimerl (atmarionsplace.com and minnesotaofficiants.com).
Thus, the movie ends:  The barn's beautiful owner has triumphantly launched the next phase of its existence, and done it in her usual charming style, the villainous bridesmaid is done in by her own Skilsaw, Father Jimmy-John has good reason for the twinkle in his eye, especially from where he's standing ;), and the supporting cast of friends, helpers, clients, and cohorts has come together to celebrate it all, on a beautiful autumn evening, on a hill above the little midwestern town of Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

The End.

Or, more likely, To Be Continued...

Friday, September 16, 2011

It's not just for weddings...

Some of you may be tired of reading about the barn with chandeliers, but it has been the focus of most of my "non-work" hours for the past several weeks, and will be the focus of my "days off" this weekend, so that's what I'm posting today. Cindy's open house is Sunday, so you can expect Monday's post to show photos of the event, and the gorgeous "finished" space. Later next week, I'll probably give you a peek at a few of the million square feet of knotty pine paneling I whitewashed, and some new paint projects.

This is Cindy's best friend, Simon, who maintains a supervisory role in all barn refurbishing projects.

As Simon says, the open house is this Sunday, September 18th, from 3-8p.m..  You will be amused and amazed by this charming event location, and if the venue isn't entertainment enough, you can test out the dance floor, and be entertained by a few story tellers.  In fact, at some point, yours truly takes the stage to regale you with tales of...um, I'm not exactly sure, as I haven't written it yet.  Being recently singlified, I'm having a bit of a challenge coming up with amusing stories that won't scare off Cindy's potential wedding clients.  I have a little over 48 hours though, so no sweat.  (If you are laughing at this last sentence, you know me too well, or you too are a writer.)

The barn, Rubies & Rust, is easy to find.  Belle Plaine is on 169, south of Minneapolis.  Whether coming from north or south, take the Main Street exit off of 169, and at the top of the ramp, hang a rightOnce off of the overpass, take the first right, which is Hickory Blvd, and follow this to the top of the hill.  At the top of the hill, you have no choice but to turn left.  Okay, technically you could u-turn, drive through a cornfield, or sit and contemplate life, but these options don't apply in the quest to arrive at the barn, so turn left.  Once you pass the beige subdivision, the road will turn to gravel, and curve gently.  After the curve, you'll see the barn on the left, tucked into some trees.

Note:  There is a barn boutique on 169, just north Belle Plaine, this weekend.  This isn't us, but if you like country decor, maple syrup, and nice people, you might like to check it out.

Here's a sneak peek at the reception area upstairs:

I do so hope to see you there, if you are in the area, or to see on the blog stats, after Monday night's post, that you have checked in from around the world.  No, I can't tell who it is, just which country you checked in from.  Even better, I would love to see your comments, which you can easily post at the end of every blog entry.  If you don't want to comment publicly, you are welcome to email me at dawnmariedelara@gmail.com, unless of course you are a spammer who wants me to help with an international financial transaction, tell me I've won the Irish lottery for the tenth time today, or offer me male enhancement products (?!?!?!), in which case, I truly wish you wouldn't bother, as it just gives me more stuff to wade through in the spam filter.
After this event, for which I am wearing a lavender bridesmaid dress from bridetobeconsignment.com (actually, not as scary as I first envisioned!), I'll be back to focusing on creating beautiful living environments for clients.  I do travel, so even if you aren't in the Minneapolis area, check out my website, theartofthehome.com, to see what I can do for you.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

It's 11:32 p.m. Do you know where your paintbrush is?

Mine doesn't seem to be in my hand anymore, despite the certainty I had earlier that it had grown roots into my palm.  After another very long day (17 hours), I am just a couple of hours from finished whitewashing the million square feet of knotty pine paneling at the lake house job.  I'm also much too tired to dream up something witty or interesting to share tonight, so I'm begging off.  Catch up with you on Friday night/Saturday morning!.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mark your calendar!

I don't have anything new to write about, because when I've not been whitewashing a million square feet (okay, that's exaggerating, it's probably only a half a million) of knotty pine paneling at the lake house job, I'm up at Cindy Faus Heimerl's beautiful barn, helping get it ready for it's debut.  Tonight, I finished the faux stone walls, while another friend stained the stairs and measured up for small woodworking projects.  Not sure exactly what Cindy was doing, but making things prettier by the minute, to be sure.

The barn part of her wedding business is called Rubies & Rust, and it's a venue for smallish weddings and other gatherings.  The open house is this Sunday, the 18th, out here in Belle Plaine.  More info and directions can be found by clicking on the photo at the top of the column to the right.  Do plan to come!  This is no ordinary barn, and Cindy is certainly no ordinary woman, so it's bound to be an extraordinary evening.

Check back here on Thursday morning, for an update on progress...lake house, barn, Belle's bathroom plaster... something's bound to be finished and photogenic by then!

If there's anything I can do for your home, I'm booking early October now.  Check out the website at theartofthehome.com.

If you are working on a decorating project of your own and have questions, feel free to email me at dawnmariedelara@gmail.com, and I'll share whatever info I have.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

I do.

...paint some unusual requests, that is.  This week, I had a call on voicemail from a local client, asking if I could paint over the way-too-pink flowers on the dress she wanted to wear to her son's wedding this weekend.  Sounded pretty scary to me, and I was dragging my feet on calling her back, until I checked my email, and discovered she had left me a message there, as well.  Not nice to keep someone that anxious waiting.  I had her come right over, not wanting to keep her hoping too long, sure she would need time to shop for a different dress.
Before, with too bright flowers.

Nothing wrong with bright pink flowers, if you happen to like bright pink flowers.

As it turned out, the fabric is an easy one to paint on, and the pattern a simple one.  Conveniently, a friend had just given me a bunch of her art supplies, which included some fabric paint and textile medium, so we were able to do a test flower on a hidden part of the hem, right then and there.  It actually looked pretty good, and the look of relief on her face made me glad I said I would try.   Once I got going, the rest of the flowers came out even better than the sample, and though I wasn't here when she picked up the dress, I got my hug telephonically a little later. 

After, with flowers toned down, to her liking.  Click the picture for a close-up.

Plummy browns and coppery tones compliment her complexion and red hair much better.
 Do I get rich doing things like this?  No.  But that's not the motivation.  I love being part of this community, having my certain something to contribute, and knowing that in this community, it always comes back around.  Instantly, in some cases!  After her phone call, I ran out front to water my totally neglected flower beds, which I haven't had time and weather coincide to care for in more than a month.  To my surprise,  someone had recently weeded the whole overgrown mess!  What a blessing.  But the bigger blessing is that I have no idea who did it, and that's not because I can't imagine anyone around here who would do it, but because I can easily think of more than a dozen who would!  I hope all of you live someplace full of so many kind people!

On the subject of weddings, don't forget Cindy Faus Heimerl's Open House for Rubies & Rust is coming up on Sunday the 18th.  Click the picture at the top of the column on the right for all the info.  You might want to also check out her website for the farmhouse next to the barn, atmarionsplace.com.  Plus, if you are in the Minneapolis area and getting married, visit Bride to Be Consignment (bridetobeconsignment.com), for great buys on everything from a dress to table decor.

When it comes time to feather your new nest together, you might want to see what I can do to help.  You can view my portfolio at theartofthehome.com.

Doing it yourself?  email me at dawnmariedelara@gmail.com if you have questions you think I might be able to answer.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Robin's Egg, Tiffany Box, Pale Aqua, Beach Glass, Saw Grass...

There are paint swatches, and there are paint swatches.  Sometimes it works to choose colors from a fan deck, but not this week.  This week, we need poster sized samples, and colors custom mixed to work with light reflecting off of the water.

To make color samples, you will need:  Untinted base color, poster board, pro-tints and/or artists acrylics, paint swatches, various items whose colors you like or that your wall paint needs to compliment, and a free afternoon.  A three-year-old to supervise the process, or a cat to wander across your wet samples are optional, but highly entertaining.
This week, I'm working on the lake house whose view was featured in the last two posts.  Half of the house is a 1940's cabin with knotty pine paneling, and half is a very contemporary addition with soaring ceilings and interesting planes.  Yes, all under the same roof.  We're workin' with it.  The owner is a transplanted Georgia peach, with a husband and two kids, whose last house was pretty strongly French country in architecture, decor and color palette.  She is still using some of the traditional elements of that, but for this house she's wanting more of a beach house style, and beautiful beach glass colors. 

Shall we cover this gray wall (absolutely everything in this house that isn't knotty pine is gray...walls, flooring, tile, trim, everything) with pale aqua, pale turquoise, or pale robin's egg?  Any will coordinate with the whitewash I've added to the knotty pine paneling you can see in the background, and with the periwinkle, lavender, shell pink, and pale apple green samples not shown here.  The trim throughout the house will be white enamel, and the flooring a dark wide-plank wood, hand planed for that lovely weathered feel underfoot. 
We spent the better part of yesterday stirring up paint samples and coating out poster board, then taping them up on the walls, ceilings, doors and insides of bookcases, in various combinations.  Being able to see how lighting and angles affect the colors, and how the different colors can be combined from room to room is always helpful, but especially so when changing style and color so radically.  Being able to custom mix paint samples, and if need be, custom tint the actual paint (if the computer at the paint store won't cooperate), is nice too. 

It only took two tries to get the perfect shade of turquoise for the front door.   Not sure if it matches the real thing exactly, but this is the color often called "Tiffany Box Blue".  Very rich, indeed.
If you custom mix samples, always check the color chips for an existing match first, before asking for a computer match.  The computer systems are good, but not foolproof, and you can drive the people at the paint store nuts, if you are picky enough.  I'm not saying don't be picky, just know it may not make you their favorite customer.  In fact, I suspect the guys at my favorite paint store get even by pointing me out as a pro to other challenging customers, like the sweet little old lady standing next to me at the counter, asking whether banana yellow or lemon yellow will look better in her master bedroom, with the comforter her daughter gave her, which no, she didn't bring with her, but she can describe.  Thanks guys.

I do offer color consultations, and you can find out more about this and all my services at theartofthehome.com

If you want to mix your own test samples and need more info than I've given, do feel welcome to email me for clarification.  dawnmariedelara@gmail.com.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Goodbye Summer, ctd...

The project at the lake house won't be very photogenic until other contractors install flooring, trim gets painted and furniture is moved in, so here's another shot of the view:

...and if I had to work long days on this holiday weekend, at least this was the reward each evening, as seen through the windows from my perch on the ladder.  The little spots above the clouds are actually geese, coming in for a landing.  Wildlife photographer I'm not, but perhaps you can imagine how charming that was.
Maybe you don't have such a spectacular view from your windows, but the home you have can be the home of your dreams, and maybe I can help with the transformation.  Check out my portfolio and services by clicking here:  theartofthehome.com.

If you are doing a decorating project yourself and run into questions, feel free to email me at dawnmariedelara@gmail.com.  I love to hear what you are up to, and don't mind sharing any information I might have to help you meet your challenges.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Goodbye Summer

Labor Day Weekend.  The unofficial end of summer...somebody tell the thermometer.  It  was a sweltering 90 degrees F, and icky-sticky humid, yesterday, but it is shaping up to be a beautiful weekend, if one can believe the weather guys.  While others head out to the lake to play, I'm headed to the lake to work. 

I may be working this holiday weekend, but this is my view, from the air-conditioned comfort of my ladder.  And should the humidity drop, the red chair on the right is were I'll be taking my lunch breaks.  I could get used to this. 
You hear all the terrible economy stories every day, so here's a nice one.  This is the third house I'm decorating for these people in seven years.  Are they relentless ladder climbers?  Super rich and frivolous? No.  It's just that every time they get settled in, with the decorating just about done, someone appears at their door, totally out of the blue, badly wanting their house (interior unseen, as far as I know, though I would love to take credit), and willing to pay handsomely, allowing them to move to something a little better suited to their lifestyle.  That this would happen once is miracle enough, that it should happen twice makes me want to stand very close to them when buying lottery tickets.  As it is, I can't complain, being that it is the third time they have hired me to paint the same child's bedroom (and a whole lot more)! 

Good stuff happens.  Hope it happens to you this long summer weekend!

Too hot to be outdoors?  Browse my website at theartofthehome.com.

Working on your own DIY project this weekend?  If you run into questions, feel free to send them to me.  If I know the answer, I'll be happy to share.  dawnmariedelara@gmail.com