Friday, February 10, 2012

Tarnished Silver

When you think of silver, is your next immediate thought of shining it? One of the hottest looks right now in home accessories in silver - with the tarnish! The worn, old patina of tarnished silver is amazingly beautiful - and a great way to add shabby glamour to your home decorating.

Here two old vintage silver tray stands hold a collection of jewelry on a ladies' dressing table. These silver beauties would also make great candle stands or a perch for a small glass vase holding a couple rose buds. I might also place a small paper dolie on them and present a beautiful iced cupcake or small pile of brownies or fudge.

To instantly "age" newer looking silver, submerge your silver piece in a sink full of salt water, or spray the piece with a mild cleaner containing bleach. I have had good luck with both of these methods. Funny how so many people work so hard to make their silver pieces look brand new again and I am looking for ways to make them look so old!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Pitchers and Plates and Bowls - Oh My!

I must admit...I do LOVE china! It is impossible for me to go into a thrift or antiques shop without taking a stroll down the china and glass aisle...and I rarely go home empty handed. I'm also a fool for mismatched china. Be still my heart when I see ANYTHING with a cabbage rose or floral pattern on it!!! Collections of mixed china looks great hanging on the wall with plate hangers for instance in a beautiful design. "Matchy-matchy" is definitely out! Here I have displayed some beautiful vintage finds in a handled basket I whitewashed. Yes...that is some hay in the bottom of the basket - I love the "French Flea Market" feel it gives this cute vignette!

I am also a crazy collector of ironstone, creamware and enamelware. The monochromatic color scheme makes it so easy and fun to collect and display. All of these are highly collectible, but they are fairly easy to find when shopping antique shops and flea markets. Pitchers, tea pots, and coffee pots all can make great vases for cut flowers or flower arrangements. I often use small enamelware bowls or plates as a stand for a pillar candle or some beautiful potpourri.

Shop estate sales too when looking for china treasures. Many shoppers will overlook a box of mixed, chipped china. Some are looking for full sets to use or resell. Often it is at these or yard/tag sales where I find my best goodies!

I know many friends who troll shops, markets and sales looking for their china "pattern". This too can be a fun pastime as you purchase pieces one at a time - plus you always have something wonderful to be on the look out for.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Beautiful Blooms

A dear friend of mine owns a wonderful little flower shop in Frederick Maryland. It is tucked into a tiny storefront in the heart of the downtown shopping district, and it is truly one of the most unique flower shops I have ever seen. In front of a beautiful exposed brick wall, proprietor Sharon Messa amasses a beautiful jungle of blooms, stems and greens in wonderful French flower buckets much like one would imagine a European outdoor flower market to be like. Customers are encouraged to pick their flowers from the amazing assortment of fresh blooms and the staff at the counter will wrap or arrange the beauties for you. Sharon reports to me that she sees many of the same people (a lot of men too!) over and over again, week after week.

Whether they are plucked from a flower market like my friend's shop, from a local farmers' market stall, grabbed from a display at the grocery store, or lovingly nurtured from your own garden, beautiful, live, fresh flowers are a wonderful and fordable luxury year round in our homes.

During the winter especially, fresh flowers remind us that spring can't be too far away. Drop your blooms haphazardly into a simple mason jar, or painstakingly arrange them in a huge antique vase...there is no right or wrong way to do it. Display them in a place where you will see them everyday...perhaps on a table in your front hall where they will greet you after a long day at work. Don't underestimate the power of a small bouquet of flowers on your vanity or on the sink in the bathroom to help start your day off just right!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Is Paint Still Chic?

People have been putting paint and brush to furniture for centuries. Throughout the years paint had been used to mostly cover up cheap or mixed woods. Painted furniture enjoyed a huge resurgence in the early 1980's when Rachel Ashwell and her "Shabby Chic" phenomena. I must admit here upfront - full disclosure - that refurbishing deteriorating tables, chairs, and chests with a fresh coat of paint is still a favorite of mine. But is it still chic?

As with any decorating style, I feel that these things are always evolving. Today's look continues to embrace painted furniture, but not always just the traditional "shabby chic" white, but also other hues of grey and green for example. Another trend I notice is the wonderful juxtaposition of painted woods and natural, stained and varnished woods. This can be done very attractively and effectively in a room setting.

Sometimes a beautiful painted piece, such as a hutch or china cabinet, can be a focus or spotlight piece in a room of mixed woods and upholstered pieces. Today's look is eclectic, relaxed, and personal. Don't put your paintbrushes away quite yet...this amazing style is here to stay!