:: watercolor flowers

I've been painting with watercolors on and off now for many years. Like most artists I go through certain creative periods, right now i'm entering into a watercolor period. Lately i've had a few ideas for paintings floating around in my head so i've started sketching them out for watercolors. I'm no watercolor expert, and it's been 5 years since I've actually drawn and painted something. So like most people I turned to YouTube for some watercolor inspiration. I started with this YouTube video. This was a super helpful place to start, it helped me feel a bit more comfortable with my brushes & paints. Then I moved on to this video, which as you will see is very similar to my painting above.  I'm kinda laughing now at the music playing in the background, but I really like all of these videos...even though I prefer classical music when I'm painting. It's still soothing overall to have the video going in the background while you get lost in creating. So, as you can see my painting is inspired by that video & some of it's techniques. However, nothing we ever do as an artist is going to come out exactly like someone else's work...we all develop our own style as we go. This was my first attempt, and I have to say I was pretty pleased with how it turned out & I enjoyed myself immensely.

I hope that possibly i've inspired you to give watercolors a try sometime, if you aren't already an accomplished watercolorist that is. Watercolors really are the most forgiving medium & I find it so relaxing.  Maybe some day with more practice I can give some actual video tutorials of my own. For now though, I can share with you the paints, paper, palette & brushes that I am currently using. I have had my Windsor & Newton compact set for many years now. I first purchased it to use for my illustrated travel journal...I absolutely love it, it's so tiny & so easy to travel with. I recently added to my watercolors by purchasing the Kuretake Gansai Tambi set and though it's not something I will ever travel with due to it's size, it's just lovely & has so many beautiful colors. I used a combination of the two sets for the painting above, and all of my recent paintings. This butcher tray palette, is also a recent acquisition and is hands down the best palette ever. I love that it's enamelware {speaks to the vintage lover in me} and it's fantastic for the amount of space it gives for mixing & keeping colors. Most of my brushes are inexpensive sets that I've purchased at Michael's or Hobby Lobby, though I recently purchased this Master's Touch 2000 round 12 brush & I think it's fantastic & I will be buying more of this series brush in the future.

So, will you be joining me in your own watercolor period? Do you already paint? If so what is your favorite subject? What are your favorite paints, paper & brushes? Feel free to share links in comments, I would love to see your work. Happy Painting!!

{peace, love & hugs}

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:: fall vibes

Well, it is finally starting to feel like fall here in Charlotte NC. I actually had to turn on the heat this morning when I woke up. I'm excited, I can finally have confidence purchasing pumpkins for my porch. I love the simple display of the shiny & bright pumpkins layered upon the steps of this home in Old Salem. If you aren't familiar with Old Salem, it is a Moravian Colonial living history museum located in Winston Salem, North Carolina and it's one of my favorite places to visit, especially this time of year. In fact, I'm going to try to get the family to take a day trip with me this weekend for a visit...then I will surely feel like the season is upon us :).

These photos are from a visit several years back, but they are a perfect representation of why I love visiting. I love history and old architecture, just look at that handmade glass, how beautiful is that.

If you ever get the chance to visit, the bakery will be a favorite for sure....it is for me. Be sure to get yourself a Moravian sugar cake, and cookies...my mouth is watering just writing about it. I loved this display of rolling pins and cookie cutters in the window of the bakery. Most days you can watch as they make the bakery goods on site in the wood fired ovens just like they did during colonial times, the smell is simply amazing.

In one of the kitchens on site, they have spices they would have used displayed on a very old farm table. It is so interesting to see the homes & spaces, and imagine yourself living during this period.

Here is just one of the many beautiful saltbox homes in the Village of Old Salem. Many of the homes are inhabited by folks just like you or me, I can only dream of living in one of these beautiful historic homes. Look at that beautiful Chevron wood door and the adorable little split stair porch.

Everywhere you walk there are beautiful gardens surrounding the homes encased by beautiful fencing. In the fall things in the gardens are winding down, but the foliage & leaves changing more than make up for it.

So if you live close by, or if you are even passing through NC, this is a beautiful time of year for a visit to Old Salem. You will be so happy you did.

{peace, love & hugs}
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:: media room mood board

So, I need a little advice from my fellow decorators & designers.  I am finally getting around to updating our bonus/media room. I've found furniture and accessories I like, but I just can't seem to decide on the color of the room, I'm personally leaning towards the blue.  Help! I can't decide!

Which wall color do you prefer with the furnishings above, blue or gray??  

{peace, love & hugs}
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:: home office e-design

{ OPTION 1 }

{ OPTION 2 }


Several months ago, I worked on a home office design for some friends. They live several hours away, so we decided to work together via e-mail. They gave me direction by letting me know what things they wanted to keep in the space, otherwise I had full design freedom. They weren't particularly married to any of the existing furnishings so I started from scratch.  I gave them  a new vision for their home office and a list of where they could purchase the furnishings. I always keep things as affordable as possible, knowing that taste & styles change over time. Using Photoshop & online shopping resources, I am able to source beautiful items and put them virtually into their space giving them a clear vision of what the space will look like, it is then up to them to order the items and place them into the space according to the layout provided. With the vision for the space my friends were able to shop for pieces at their leisure and as their budget allowed.  The second after image shows the space using a pair of existing chairs from another part of their home with a new coffee table,  a set of similar bookcases that the homeowner purchased and the desk in it's original location. I think it's important to give several design/layout options.

Though I prefer to go into a space to get a real feel for how it works & flows, I also love being able to turn an existing space into something beautiful & cohesive from my own office. 

{ peace, love & hugs }

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:: savor the shoes

Just a mom realizing how much she's gonna miss these shoes when they are gone.  He's driving now, has his own car & a freedom he's never known before. I'm so happy for him, and excited to see him really spread his wings & grow, but I get so sad when I think I only have a few years left with him here under our roof.  Our oldest has already graduated from college is working and has her own home.  I'm not sure how much more this mama's heart can take, part of me wanted the freedom that comes with having grown children, but mostly now my heart breaks trying to figure out how I'm gonna make it when they've all left the nest.  It's so close only a few more years, the youngest has started driving too & right now they are out school supply shopping for the first time without me...boo hoo.  I know I have to let them go, but I never knew it was going to be this hard. 

So for today, I'm savoring the little bits of them that they leave lying around,
knowing that too soon my house will be spotless & I'll miss the days of picking up shoes.

{ peace, love & hugs}
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:: a lakehouse renovation - the living room

Hello Friends & welcome back to { driftwood cottage }. I finally got around to taking some photos of the lake house and thought I would share the before and afters of the main floor Living Room. 

:: AFTER ::

:: BEFORE ::

This is the living room when we first viewed the home.
 As you can see this isn't a super large space.
Ugh, that pass through only highlighted the side of a big black refrigerator...I knew immediately how I wanted to solve that problem. The built in bookshelf & banquet have been the perfect solution. I can now fit twice as many people comfortably in the same amount of space.

Ceilings have been stripped, and paint swatches are on the walls. At this point I had so many paint choices up I was driving myself crazy. I knew I wanted a neutral and something that would work well with the stone fireplace, I still hadn't decided on furniture so I was still up in the air.
The pass through between the Living Room & Kitchen.

 Crown moldings are up and I'm still deciding on paint color, also whether or not to paint the wainscoting the same as the wall color, not sure where that idea came from, but glad we didn't.
This was the exciting day when the flooring was finally going in. What a huge difference the hand scraped antique bamboo floors made throughout the house.
 Oops, looks like they painted the wainscoting after all...but not the trim...miscommunications happen...of course we went back to the wainscoting the same as all other trim. I went with Sherwin Williams White Duck on the walls and Benjamin Moore's White dove for all of the cabinetry & trim.  I am so pleased with the color I chose for the walls & trim. The walls are a lovely white with a hint of gray, and White Dove is the perfect white with no strange undertones. The floors are in & I'm already bringing in accessories and furniture is being delivered. 
 Lighting was so much fun to pick out and made such an impact on the updates to the house. I purchased most of the overhead lighting from Shades of Light, they have a specific section of lighting for 8 foot ceilings so I knew whatever I chose would work in our spaces. I also ordered some of our kitchen and bathroom fixtures from Lowe's, all very affordable stylish options.
The beginnings of decorating, little by little I brought in my online purchases & little finds from the usual places like Home Goods & World Market. Since this is our second home and we are only there part time I went with less expensive large furnishings knowing they would last longer with only minimal wear. Sofas & Living room chairs I ordered from Rooms To Go, opting for slipcovers & microfiber for easy cleaning. Two years in and the furniture from Rooms to Go is holding up quite nicely, and I suspect we will get many many more years out of it without a problem.

We opted to go without a television in this space since we have a large lounge area in the basement. This living room is for lovely lake views, cozy fires, good books, coffee & conversation.

{peace, love & hugs}
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:: quickie gallery wall

This is just a fun little share, so please excuse my less than professional I phone photos. I usually completely forget to snap a before photo, but since this whole design started with a text from my oldest daughter around 8:30 last night including a before pic we're good to go.  

We started out exchanging texts and photos of her living room, she needed a little help with arranging & hanging some items above her sofa & pulling her home together in preparation for listing it on airbnb. After sharing several images & throwing out ideas via text, I decided it would be much easier if I just drove over & helped in person. So an hour later like any mom would do at 9:30 at night ... I jump in my car & head her way ready to relieve some of her stress and anxiety.

Luckily she has some really great items for me to work with, so within a few minutes I had grabbed various items from around her home to use for a little collection above the sofa. We had a great bull skull purchased at a Flea Market,  floral artwork { Target }, large rattan mirror { Target }, clock from  { Ikea }, and the large hammered metal "A"  I had given her as a gift from  { TJMaxx }. 

I simply arranged the items on the floor in front of the sofa. She approved of the arrangement and we began hanging the items on the wall just as I had them placed on the floor. Super easy & we were done probably within 15-20 minutes of my arrival. I removed the afghan from the back of the sofa, fluffed up the pillows, added another table, lamp & rug from another room & voila we had a cool cohesive & pulled together look. I think it's perfectly eclectic & boho chic.

We continued moving and rearranging items around her home until around 1:00am. We still have some other little projects to tackle to get her place ready for airbnb, but she & I were very happy with the end results... I would certainly be happy to stay here for a visit, how about you?

More pics to come, and soon she will have a nice place for you to stay if you ever come for a visit to the Queen City, Charlotte NC.... any Panther's fans out there :).

{ peace, love & a hug }
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:: a lake house renovation - the kitchen

{ Driftwood Cottage }

Now that all of our renovations are over the dust has cleared & we've christened it with fun weekends with friends & family... I'm finally ready to document all the changes we made to our vacation home on the lake. Welcome to { Driftwood Cottage } our little slice of lake life.

Of all the spaces in the lake house, the Kitchen is my absolute favorite. I love how everything turned out. I love the newly painted white cabinets with their new bronze hardware. I adore all of the new lighting, and I'm especially in love with my new bookcase/banquette... it was the perfect solution to hide the fridge at the end of the cabinets.  I had to share the after first because I think it's just so much prettier than where we began.  The kitchen wasn't so bad to begin with, the cabinets were relatively new as well as the tile backsplash and granite countertops... so they stayed and the cabinets got a paint job and new hardware. I'm happy enough with the granite countertops, if I changed anything it would be the tile backsplash, but it works and doesn't bother me...not worth the money to change it. The major changes in the kitchen & throughout the house are the ceilings and the flooring. We had all of the popcorn ceilings removed throughout & also had bamboo flooring installed through the whole house. We went with bamboo because of the durability & the fact that it plays well with water... that's pretty important on a lake & when you have a basement. 

Here is the kitchen before we purchased the house. That's vinyl flooring not tile & though it's not horrible & was in good shape, we wanted a cohesive look throughout the house.

Here it is with the ceilings stripped & paint swatches on the walls, 
it took me forever and about a zillion paint pots to decide on a color.
We decided to keep the appliances because they were all in good working order, 
In fact the black ties in nicely with the bronze hardware I chose.

Here are the cabinets with their first coat of primer, looking better already.

Cabinet doors & shelves being painted in the basement, all that nasty carpet has to go anyway.

Looking a bit less stark with the new paint color, also blends a bit better.
At this point I also contemplated leaving some of the cabinet doors off.
I decided for practical and visual reasons to put them back on. 
The bookcase ended up being all the open shelving we needed.

Woo Hoo the flooring was going in...what a huge difference!

The new bookcase wall is up to mask the fridge,  and the new lighting has been installed.  
The fixture above the sink is Bristow by Allen Roth from Lowe's, and the lovely Twig Orb is from Shades of Light I ordered the Large.  I just adore it & I think it adds the perfect rustic touch. 

Then came the best part of all, the built in bookshelf & banquette. 
This is my absolute favorite part of our whole renovation... it absolutely makes the kitchen,
now it's so much more functional and quaint. We also now have a much better view from the living room not looking into the side of a refrigerator. It took a little bit of research to figure out the whole banquette thing. I had never had one before & I've never designed one until now ;). I wanted it to be deep enough for lounging {in fact it's large enough to sleep on...my kids have done it ha! ha! } but easy enough to get in and out of, and oh there are so many different opinions on the depth of a banquette seat on the web. I decided by sitting in a comfortable wicker chair that I loved measuring the depth then adding an additional few inches for throw pillows in the back.  I also chose to leave the seating open underneath so feet could swing under comfortably. It looks a bit low to the ground in these photos & it is, but I had to account for the 4" of foam cushion that would be the seat.

Here we have our beadboard back in place & our new coat of White Dove,
and she's all ready for some cushions, a table & some goodies for the shelves.

Starting the decorating process my favorite part. 
We have uncovered foam, a few throw pillows, vintage books and baskets. 
It was and still is such fun looking for treasures to add to { Driftwood Cottage }
Lots of vintage and used books for relaxed weekend and summer reading.
I found a great stash of vintage Reader's Digests all with the great printed covers,
I love the pops of color they add to the space, and they are great for weekend reading.

Here it is again in all it's finished splendor {so you don't have to scroll back up}

I absolutely love this space.  It's where we all gather for morning coffee & conversation,
where we read, craft & even play on our computers.  This is truly the perfect spot for lounging & laughing with family & friends, and we are so blessed to have it and share it.

Oh & here she is our little { Driftwood Cottage }

{ lake side }

{ street side }

Just wait till you see the changes we've made outside...
more photos coming soon!!

{ peace, love & a hug }

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