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Photo Finish: 3 Spring Tables

 in my last post, i shared the process of cleaning up and decorating a garden house
(more than a shed, but not quite a greenhouse)
that was lovingly built in the backyard of a house i rented in Seattle.
[the owner is my sweet friend Todd Waddell, a VERY talented garden & visual designer
who also owns the lovely shop Bountiful Home in Edmonds, WA]

after the two day, no cost garden house makeover project was done,
i took the third day to do a few exterior improvements
(also shown in my last post
and then i just PLAYED, taking hundreds of photos.

i gathered up some props from the yard and my studio,
which all combined with my basic white dinnerware and clear glassware
to create several different tablescapes for spring.
some the images you see in my new banner and other graphics
were all shot inside that greenhouse on a cold, cloudy winter Seattle day...
 the natural light in this space was AH-mazing!

i hope you find decorating & entertaining inspiration in these
three very different table settings with Spring-fresh style:

 in this previous post, i shared my idea for using stemless wine glasses as miniature 'domes'.

this pink tablescape for spring shows one version of them:
miniature pink ranuculus blossoms inside a mini terra cotta pot, under a glass dome,
which is set off by vintage Coke bottles holding pink roses
and vintage linens with a pink border.

revelation: the roses are fakes. GOOD ones. so are the ranuculus. 
it was about 38 degrees when i shot these photos,
but you'd never know it from the flowers!

then i switched things up, and shot it this way:

 moss [scavenged from the yard] fills up terra cotta pots of various sizes, 
including miniature pots under the glass 'domes' - 
one dome fits over the tiniest pot, another dome sits up IN a small pot.
a tiny leaf on a twig and the sprouts of a bulb add interest to each.
[those bulbs with the green sprouts? onions.]

a quick switchup, and i had this setting:
 clear glass, white ceramic pieces, white tulips, and some wood eggs [found at a thrift shop]
create a simple, farm-fresh look - that can also be very contemporary. 

 the wood eggs sit on top of antique cut glass salt cellars, under the stemless wineglass 'domes'.

then it was time for some 'garden' photos -
and amazingly, the sun came out just as i was shooting them!

 those fabulous white tulips show up a lot in my photos. pretty, huh?
they're fake. 
i pulled them out of floral wreaths that i found on a clearance rack at Restoration Hardware Outlet.

the leaves sprouting up out of terra cotta pots?

being a visual stylist is like being the biggest liar on the planet sometimes -
we have to create spring in winter, Christmas during a summer heat wave, and summer in the snow,
and make it as realistic as possible! 
when i find products that work as well as these tulips do, i use them. often.

a few shots of of some collections... staged on a miniature chair.

it was a really fun day for me, 
enjoying the fruits of my labor and a space that was all my own to work in.

and do you know what happened the NEXT day?

yeah. it snowed.
gotta' love Seattle!

shared online:

funky junk interiors


Garden House Makeover!

Yes, i REALLY did do this makeover in two days!
i think if that you see it and realize how absolutely possible it IS,
then you can take on a Spring Cleanup Project like this one, too!

here's what happened last winter (2012):
it was january. in seattle. COLD. rainy. gray. depressing.
i was ACHING for spring.
 and when i looked out into the backyard of the sweet little cottage i was renting,
there was a little garden house (potting shed, she shed, garden shed)
that the talented owner had made from salvage.
and it was full of junk. 
some of the junk was the house owners, and had been there for years.

some of the junk was mine, and had been dumped there the month before when i moved in.
the space was totally unusable.
but i knew that with a good cleaning job,
it could be a FABULOUSly usable space - and a stylist's DREAM!

so i asked myself these questions:
* what junk that is thrown in there can be used in a new way for storage or decor?
* what junk/stuff that i have in storage or in the garage can be used in there?
[and let me tell you, i had a LOT]

on Friday, i gathered up all the stuff i was going to use, and sat it outside the garden house.
i was ready to begin the project on Saturday morning
and DETERMINED to have it done by Sunday afternoon.

a lofty goal, especially considering that it looked like THIS inside on Friday:
Saturday morning, i began by emptying out the garden house...
which made it look a LITTLE bit less awful:

the old screen door that i had was hung on the INSIDE of the back doorway
[with the glass door swinging open to the right, outside of the garden house,
this was the only way to make a screen door work there.
and i had one, so i wanted to use it.]

after that, i grabbed two partial gallon cans of white paint left from painting furniture,
and watered them down to a 50/50 mix.
i used that to paint all of the window edges and door trim and doors, and floor.
there was about a half can of the whitewash left, so i added more water
and used that really thin mix to wash all of the walls and beams.
the wood was SO dry that it literally sucked up all of the paint/whitewash!
i sat one small heater inside the garden house, just to be sure it would dry.
and left the heater on overnight with the doors closed.
[NOTE: this was a very safe contractor's heater on a sturdy base, not a household heater.]

on Sunday morning, i started moving in the furniture...
on the left side of the entry door:
one tall old crate [that had been in the garden house] and
two of my own large wood crates, stacked on their sides
formed the supports for my enamel kitchen sink
[been hauling that around for about ten years...]
there was no running water, but the sink and it's attached counters worked great for potting plants.
had i stayed there, i would have run the garden hose through the wall and into the sink.

a pegrack made from old fence boards and ceramic pegs for electric fences
was hung over the sink for storage.
and an old aluminum light pendant was hung above it all
[attached to a heavy-duty construction extension cord, that ran to an exterior plug on the house]
in the back corner, an old wooden chair that i 'rescued' from a dumpster
[and have subsequently used for years in retail store & seminar stage displays]
holds my medium and large terra cotta plant pots in unusual ways:
there's a metal industrial bread pan on the floor holding pots,
and there's a metal industrial muffin-top pan sitting across the arms of the chair holding pots.
a few others sit on the chair seat under the muffin-top pan.

all of the tiniest pots sit up on a beam between the studs.
[i saw that idea at Christiansen's, one of my fave nurseries]

on the right side of the entry door:
there had been a long wood park bench inside the garden house (the owner's),
and i placed it under the large window. over the window, i hung another one of the pegracks.
it's not shown in the photo below, but i later hung a large white lace bedspread from those hooks
to block out the VERY ugly view of the neighbor's yard. it still let the light in, which was perfect.

i sat an old enamel-top table (roadside find!) in front of the bench,
and added one of my metal chairs to the other side.
(the other four matching metal chairs were at a patio table in the backyard)

 above the table, a metal floral chandelier that i have used for YEARS was hung from the rafters.
[you've seen it painted bright green in a past office post!]
the chandy's electrical cord was connected to another heavy-duty contractor's extension cord 
that ran to an exterior plug on the back of the house.
[the cord ran down the fence line to the house]

with all of the major pieces in place, it was time for the details...

here's a photo of the finished interior on Sunday afternoon:
everything that had already been inside the garden house was used.
i added a LOT of my own stuff - furniture, lighting, decor & garden elements.
but i did not spend one single cent on this project!

 here's what i did a day later:

the garden house's exterior didn't really need much work - 
nothing more than a removal of some old hops vines that had grown up the side
and the addition of a 'porch light' under the existing glass window 'awning' over the door.
[the light was a plain metal worklight from Home Depot that i had on hand,
and the cord ran under a board into the extension cord already inside]

i also hung two small metal 'shelves' from IKEA, one under each window,
and loaded them up with some terra cotta pots.
around the side of the garden house, another one of my original peg racks was hung outside
to hold large galvanized buckets and old garden tools.

and later that same day
i got busy shooting photos for upcoming magazine and blog projects:
 ...and more that i'll share in an upcoming post!

Then the NEXT day, THIS happened:

yup... it SNOWED!(pretty, isn't it?)
i don't live in that little cottage in Seattle anymore, 
but i sure have fond memories of this project and the photo session.
thank you, Todd, for the freedom to do this to your place!

so what are YOU doing this coming weekend?
maybe it's time to look at that garden shed or back porch in a new way...
there's a LOT you can accomplish in just two days!

shared online:

cupcakes & crinoline

green willow pond 

jennifer rizzo's fabulously creative fridays


Happy Easter

i am so thankful for the meaning of this holiday!

whether you celebrate in church or in a field of grass,
with lilies and crosses or bunnies and eggs,
may this Easter bring peace to your soul and light to your heart...


Switch It Up!

 one year, on the day before Easter, i awoke with a wild idea.
[which, truly, isn't that unusual]
the family was coming the next day for Easter dinner, and i wanted to do something different.

and no, i'm not talking about making a new dish for the meal.
i'm talking about the place where we'd HAVE the meal. i was ready for a big change!
 this photo shows my lovely seven-foot-long pine dining table in the dining room. 
which is fine, but the sunlight never really reached this part of the house.
 and i wanted a sunny Easter gathering
[since the weather in Seattle was cooperating that year!]

so... i pulled the dining room table out into the living room,
and moved the round farm table from the living room to the dining room...
sadly, while i don't have a photo to show the whole dining table in its new location,
i do have this one with GLORIOUS sunshine pouring in the windows onto the pine. 
it literally glowed with warmth, which was exactly what i wanted!

with two windows facing the front yard (south) and a glass door from the porch (west),
the table was a bright and happy place for our holiday meal.
 the round farm table made a charming addition to the dining room space.
 i pulled a park bench and two garden chairs from the front porch, 
which completed the seating area.
the room offered a more sunny and open look - much like a 'breakfast room',
which is exactly how it was used for months afterward!

[and when the kids showed up on Easter, 
everyone gathered here for pre-dinner drinks and conversation!]

here's a floorplan sketch to show you how it played out:

i left the tables this way all through spring and summer that year, 
and loved the way that we used the space differently.
i used the large dining table as a desk on many days,
since i was able to look out onto the sunny yard and porch awhile working.

remember: it didn't cost me a thing - just some muscle and a little time - 
but the Cottage was renewed and refreshed!

what about YOUR rooms?
is there a switch you can make that will revitalize your space
 and give your rooms a new look and functionality for the season?
give it a try!

[i know, it may be hard to convince your hubby that this is worth doing...
just remind him that it's a free way to redecorate!]



i'm going to share a little secret with you:
accidentally discovered a 'Fast, Cheap, & Easy' TM way to make realistic bird nests!

one day while weeding some flowerbeds,
i grabbed a handful of [dead] daylily foliage right outta' the ground. just yanked it up.
it was in my hand and i looked at it, and then...
 i held onto one end, and wrapped the length of it around my hand a few times.
when i got to the other end, i tucked it into the wound-up stuff.
[don't you love the technical terms i use?!]
and even though it sort of looked like a donut,
i thought 'yep, it looks like a nest!'
... and i carried it inside and sat it in the bowl you see in the photo above.

i added some vintage fabric flowers and a ceramic bird, and three white stones as 'eggs'.
nothin' fancy. i liked the way it looked.
 so i went outside and i made more!
[my flowerbeds were SO clean when i was done...]

and when i later decided to make these nests to SELL, i added stuff to the nests:
 * papier mache' eggs sit on a bit of moss glued to the nest as a bottom,
accented by a strip of vintage sheet music and a tiny dried stock blossom.

* a bed of moss holds a nest and a faux bird inside an armillary sphere lamp base
*a small nest sits atop a pedestal bowl, topped with another faux bird and a clear glass lamp globe

* miniscule nests sit inside glass salt cellars, adorned with vintage fabric millinery flowers and book clippings
[these would be fabulous place markers at an Easter table!]

* i've also used the bitsy ones as adornments on packages
[as seen in holiday issues of 
Creating Vintage Charm & FOLK Magazines]

* a HUGE nest in a display at a vintage show holds pretty lemons from the nearby trees,
covered with a rusted wire garden planter as a 'dome'
[this nest started out much neater.. it was handled a LOT that day!]

you can do this! 
try it using raffia. or field grass. or beach grass.
or daylily foliage. i've even used daffodil foliage.
 and my flowerbeds? they have never looked better! ;)