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It's My Pot-ty and I'll Hoard If I Want To!

I just love terra cotta pots!
They are such a versatile decorative element...
I can ALWAYS find a way to use them, in every season.

Driving down the road one day about eight years ago,
I saw something that caused me to slam on my brakes:
There were terra cotta plant pots 
sitting in boxes and standing in stacks in a yard by the side of the road.

Lots of them.

Lots and Lots of them.

Lots and Lots and LOTS of them....

and next to them, there was a sign:

Just LOOK at some of the vintage ones in the mix:

so you know what happened next, right?
uh huh.
 I quickly loaded those babies into my trusty Isuzu Trooper 'Suzi'
[oh, how I miss her], took them HOME with me,
...and they lived happily ever after!

In my yard...

In show displays...
underneath that cool old stove above, a broken pot adds charm....

The last of them ended up in my gardenhouse...

and then when I left Seattle in 2012, I gave them away.
[Yes, that was hard - but necessary at the time.]
I'm sure that in the future, I'll amass another collection!

I love bringing them into the house and using them, too...
Gather them on a platter or in a crate, sit them on a miniature chair,
add a little moss, tuck in a blooming primrose or tulip,
dome them under glass, set the table with them...

I'm a purist and generally don't paint or embellish them for my own use -
but I've seen some very cute ideas out there!

What's YOUR favorite thing to do with terra cotta pots?


Happy Earth Day - Every Day!

Those of us who create using reclaimed & recycled materials  
observe Earth Day EVERY day!
It's fun to know that we are not only helping to keep the planet 'green' and healthy,
 but we are preserving parts of history by not sending architectural salvage to the landfill.

shows,DIY,vintage,decorating,style,antiques,inspiration,FREE,home decor,diy decorating,salvaged,trash to treasure,re-purposing,up-cycling,wall art,vintage style,farmhouse style,retreat vintage home,vintage shows,antique shows,show booth design.
As I was arranging the frames for the presentation that I shared about in my post yesterday,
I remembered a similar project that I created, using old window frames.

They were used in several arrangements as props inside our Retreat Home booths
at vintage shows in 2010...

Basically, I just hung varied sizes and styles of old window frames
[both with and without glass in them]
at varied heights and levels from the booth frame, using wire,
to create an overhead 3-D composition.

Giant chandeliers completed the look and added sparkle!

You can see in the photos above that the window elements
can be arranged differently in each setting - 
in this case, vendor booths at three different shows - 
and yet the message or theme remains the same.

Windows are also pretty cheap at salvage stores, garage sales, and on Craigslist!

This idea is easily adapted to a 2-D wall arrangement
using old windows, frames, mirrors, shutters, crates, palettes....
any kind of salvage with character.

btw, that 'baby grand piano' in some of the shots above?
it's a bar. and it ended up in a magazine!

photos above taken by and property of Debi Ward Kennedy (me!)
of my RETREAThome (my previous home furnishing & decor business) booths
at the Farm Chicks, Barn House, and UrbanBarn antique / vintage shows in 2010.

many thanks to HOMEBNC for including this post in their 2021 summer decor feature
40+ Old Window Outdoor Decor Ideas

shows,DIY,vintage,decorating,style,antiques,inspiration,FREE,home decor,diy decorating,salvaged,trash to treasure,re-purposing,up-cycling,wall art,vintage style,farmhouse style,retreat vintage home,vintage shows,antique shows,show booth design.


Re-Framing Your Dreams

On Saturday, I had the honor of being part of a remarkable event:
Launch Your Creativity.

If you were one of the guests in attendance,
I would like to thank you from my heart for your warm reception, your trust, your attention, 
and your grateful responses to the message I shared.
(more about my message later in this post...)

This inspiring gathering is held each Spring in a gorgeous Parisian-themed tearoom, 
and attended by 45 women who are seeking guidance, support, and encouragement 
as they pursue their own creative dreams. 
Most dream of launching a new business – a store, a fashion line, a business service – 
and there are women who attend as a 'jump start' to a new life.

I am one of those women, too.

My friend and LYC founder Sharon Hughes had been asking me to speak at her events for two years. 
My background in retail visual styling and store design 
was a great addition to the other subjects covered by the experienced and successful speakers, 
and I was honored to be asked to participate. 
Yet because the events are held in Southern California, and I was based in the Seattle area, 
the logistics just never worked out. 
I was busy running two businesses, and couldn't get away from them.

Well, all that changed in the fall of 2011.
Everything about my life changed then...

Without sharing the 'Lifetime Movie' details of what happened,
I'll say that the result is that I am single (separated, then widowed) after 32 years of marriage,
 live in Southern California again, and am rediscovering who I am and what I want to do.

I attended this beautiful event last April as a guest.
I went because my life had undergone radical changes over the preceding seven months. 
I needed to be surrounded by positive energy to assist me in shifting my own perspective, and to heal. 

And my friend Sharon knew that I would find what I needed there. I did.

This year, I was able to finally accept her request to speak at the event!
But I didn't talk about retail visual concepts or displays or stores or brands...

In the 19 months since the awful day that everything changed for me, 
I have been on a journey of release, recovery, healing, rediscovery and rebirth. 
And it is from that journey that I learned some valuable lessons...
those are the lessons that I shared in my presentation on Saturday.

Titled 'Re-Framing Your Dream', my presentation asked this question:
“What do you DO when your dreams don't work out the way you planned?”

Because I have been an artist all of my life, I presented my subject wrapped in a metaphor:
'Dreams as a Masterpiece'. A one-of-a-kind Masterpiece that only WE can bring to life.
Just as an artist begins with a vision in his head 
then transforms a blank canvas with color and brushstrokes, light and shadow, depth and perspective, 
our lives give us the opportunity to create something from our vision:
Our Dream.

And as we do, that 'canvas' finds itself in many different 'frames'...

With the visual aid of eight very different picture frames, 

I talked about the process that a Dream takes as it is being created
and how situations affect it - and us.
Not every journey is the same, but the cycle is similar and most people can relate...
 dream a little dream

This is your secret 'hidden in my heart' dream.
The one that begins as a thought like 'what if...'
(there's a WORLD of possibility in those two little words!)

The frame is tiny, but valuable and beautiful.
We cherish it, hide it away, and keep on dreamin'...
 a growing dream

 This is the phase when your dream begins to grow.
You think about it constantly, you doodle and make lists, 
you start your research, and you can't sleep at night
Because the dream has you SO excited!
The frame is more detailed, a little bit bigger, more clear.

At right about this point, you want to tell everyone about it.
Tell your mom, tell your BFF, tell your sister. maybe your husband/partner.
Do NOT tell the neighbors and the gals at church or work, 
and definitely not the lady behind you in line at Target!

Protect this little dream! It's like a baby bump...
because once you start showing, it seems like everyone on Earth has questions and advice for you.
All of that will overwhelm you and confuse you. It will make you question every choice and decision.
Only the people that can support you and help you need to know about it right now...
Don't let strangers touch the baby!
 a grand dream

You've spent time researching and preparing, making a business plan and lists,
finding resources and continuing to add to your 'idea files'.
You have people you trust around you to give advice and answer questions.
The more you grow it,
your dream becomes the GRAND dream:
Your way to share what you value with others, with the world.
The frame is larger, very detailed, elegant, beautiful, and ready to be revealed.

Whether it's a product or a service, small or large,
will impact five people or five million people, 
it is a worthwhile dream
because it comes from your heart, your passion, your own unique talents and skills. 
It is your heart on display!
When you reach this point, you're sharing your dream with everyone.
But now, it's strong enough to hold up under the questions and doubts and opinions of others.

Sometimes, other people even share it FOR you...
 a spotlight on your dream
Sometimes this happens, and sometimes it doesn't:
 You become 'noticed'. You get media attention.

the frame for this is large - but plain. 
because the focus of any spotlight needs to be what it is SHINING ON.

Here's what happens:
Your facebook LIKES and Twitter followers are growing astronomically.
Your photos are shared all over facebook and Pinterest and Instagram.
Bloggers are talking about you, linking to you, and asking you to write guest posts.
Popular magazines start calling and want to run feature stories on your or your business or your home.
Ellen wants you on her show!

Yes, the spotlight is FUN! It can be a great experience,
and it CAN help you grow your business awareness and reputation.
...But it should never be the POINT of your dream.
It should be a by-product of your dream growing and moving forward according to your plans.

Never exhaust yourself pursuing the spotlight.
Never let reaching or being in the spotlight be the focus of your dream.
(unless your dream involves acting!)
 a messy dream

This happens to everyone, to every dream, so get ready...
At some point, something is going to go wrong and get VERY messy.

The frame that I used here has a great story:
It was gold when I bought it at a thrift store.
I brought it home and spray painted it white, so it would match the other white frames I already had.

I don't know if you can tell from the photo above, but that frame is not white.
It's ivory. And the paint is drippy, runny, separated from the base coat in cissed spots
and it looks like it's got smoke damage from a fire.

After my momentary frustration over the dismal results,
I realized that it was the perfect visual for this part of the presentation...
Because that frame is a HOT MESS.

Life, business, and dreams can  - WILL - get that way, too.
Things won't always go according to plan.
You are going to face some whopper messes along the path to your dreams.

Bad marketing campaigns, products that are ill-timed (or copied!), 
supplies that don't arrive, clients that don't pay, 
illness that causes you to miss a huge opportunity...

Need I say more?

What do you do? You clean up the mess the best you can.
You fix it, spin it, recall it, refund it, repair it...
eat crow if you have to.
and then move on to the next step.
live, learn, apply, go forward.

forward to the next phase:

Have you ever heard of an 'underpainting'?
That's when an artist paints OVER an existing work with gesso
to create a clean canvas.

And then they start over...
a revised dream

There are points in the growth of a dream and business
that force you to stop, take notice, and then take action.

Perhaps you've spread yourself too thin and are overwhelmed.
Maybe your sales are down and you don't know why.
Maybe this dream just doesn't reflect your vision anymore.

what do you DO?

Get those trusted advisors together for a pow-wow.
Look objectively and honestly at what's happened and why.
Then make hard choices and necessary changes...

Usually, that means scaling back. Cutting things away. Slowing down.
A step back or a step sideways is NOT FAILURE! It's EXPERIENCE!

The frame is smaller than the frame around your Grand dream, but it's more valuable.
You can see the swirls and curves that reflect the Grand dream frame, even though it is smaller.
What you can't really see is that it's made from a far more valuable material!

Redefining and restructuring your dream may just make it more valuable.
 a destroyed dream

Sometimes, due to something that comes out of nowhere,
our dreams are destroyed...

A natural or other disaster. A pile-up of factors that just can't be cleaned up.
The choices and actions of others who impact our lives and our dreams.

Unbidden, those things come like missiles from out of nowhere, and destroy our dream.
(And sometimes US in the process.)

The frame is broken, cracked, damaged,
and the dream is torn, dirty, and unrepairable...
There comes a point, my friends, that you have to stop fighting for it.
A point where you have to accept that the dream is no longer breathing.
It's gone.

And that is the point when you have to release it. Let go.
Grieve the loss, celebrate the memories, learn from the experience, 
heal from the hurt, and move forward in a new direction. 

My own story is that my cracked, broken, and unrepairable frame
held not only my dreams, but my whole life.
Moving on is hard work... but you can do it.

and when you do, you have to remain open and ready for the arrival of
 a NEW dream

It may just turn out that the new dream you dream -
another one that is born out of your heart, your passion, and your purpose -
will be even BETTER than the one you had in the beginning...

the frame is larger, more beautiful, more detailed, and more substantial
than the Grand dream frame that seemed so perfect before.

At the end of my presentation, I shared this: 
Although I have grieved and released my former dream and my former life,
though I have learned so much that has allowed me to understand why much of it happened 
and why it ended the way it did,
and though I am ready for and excited about the new life that lies in front of me now...

I have NO IDEA yet what my NEXT dream will be!

I truly don't. I have ideas, I have some things I am going to pursue and see how they 'pan out',
but I don't have a huge vision and goal in mind. YET.

But I know that I WILL have another Dream. It's just not time yet.

I know without doubt that my new dream will grow from my true passion
for finding simple ways to make spaces and environments beautiful and enjoyable,
and from my desire to share that with others to enrich their lives.

Whether it becomes creating sets for an entertainment giant,
or creating displays for a well-known retailer,
or opening a store of my own or starting another vintage show,
or simply continuing with my consulting and writing and speaking,
I know that the 'big picture' will come into focus soon.

I'm just going to keep on taking one step forward – 
or at the very least, on those days when it's SO hard to be starting completely over at 51 – 
I'll just keep FACING forward. Because even that is progress.

A masterpiece is made one brush stroke at a time
And then the perfect frame is found.

I will never lose faith again – not in me, not in good, not in God.
And not in the fact that I am here to share my unique gifts and abilities and vision with the world – 
however it is framed, my dream is one that the world needs. 
And so is YOURS!
So I find myself smiling a bit wryly as I share this unusual post on my blog...

This blog is where I have shared ideas, information, and inspiration that is all about how things LOOK. 
Your store, your displays, your brand image. 
And for many years, I focused on exactly that in my own life: how it all looked from the outside. 

This journey I am on has taught me to deal with the reality of how it really looks – inside and out. 
It has taught me to be authentic, and to follow my own advice and 'Tell My Own Story'. 
As I continue to write and speak and consult with retail businesses, I will stress this to my clients. 
Open your eyes, see the situation for what it truly is, and then get to work. 
Re-define your business, and be authentic. 

The canvas of your dream may be 'framed' in a brick and mortar store, 
or an online boutique, or a space in a vintage mall or show. 
No one else is you, no one else offers what you do the way you do. 
Tell Your Own Story. Create your dream. The world needs you, and your dream!

I find myself smiling a bit wryly as I share this unusual post on my blog...
homewardFOUND is where I share ideas about 
re-thinking, re-imagining and re-defining 'found objects' into dΓ©cor. 

Now it's my turn to re-think, re-imagine, re-define my life and my dream...
maybe it's your time for that, too.
so I thought that sharing this post here was appropriate...

The same principles apply to a dream as to found decor:
* Use what you have NOW - Look around you and see what's been overlooked that you can use.
* Work from your strengths, purpose, and passion - Use the skill set you have!
* Stay true to yourself and your style - Be Authentic.

I might just make my own frame out of reclaimed lumber 
and paint over a canvas from the thrift store 
as a visual reminder to myself that we can always make things new... 
even our dreams. Even our lives.


new uses for metal bread pans

when i was running a business based on turning castoffs into beautiful and functional objects,
it thrilled me to no end to find strange bits and pieces,
 and then use my imagination to reinvent them.

industrial metal bread pans were one of those finds...
i came upon a tilting stack of 75 of them at a barn sale, and bought the lot. 
and then i used them for all KINDS of things:
* holding plant pots in my garden house 
as shown in my 'Garden House Makeover Project' post

* as 'drawers' in a salvaged dresser that had none

* displaying giant letter tiles
[tile tutorial here]

* organizing craft supplies, papers and files in my studio/office

* holding canned goods and paper towels in my pantry

* organizing tools by the BBQ

 * and making a spur-of-the-moment moveable herb garden:
this particular creation happened by accident...

i was setting up at a show, moving things all over the booth,
trying to find a place to put one last industrial bread-baking pan.
there was a small metal wheelbarrow frame sitting on the ground, 
waiting for a wood crate to be placed into it.

but i had a better idea....
i placed the metal frame up ON the table 
[on a burlap feedsack so it wouldn't scratch the wood]
and then sat the metal bread pan in the wheelbarrow frame.

it didn't fit perfectly... but it was unique!
i added some potted herbs, handfulls of straw from the ground,
and the vintage jelly jars that i had planned to sit on a tray on the table.

the look was decidedly more interesting than my original plan
and it's a great idea for a move-able herb garden centerpiece:

* line a metal baking pan or oil pan with plastic or foil
(large industrial or small household size, either will work)

* place pots of herbs into each section (they hold a LOT)
you could also plant the herbs in the pan - just add rocks before soil, for drainage.

* sit the pan on something that it's not supposed to go with -
an upside-down round stool, for example. or the silver base of a fancy warming tray.
mix, match, whatever!

it makes for a great conversation piece
and an easy move from table to kitchen counter to backyard, 
for watering and sun exposure.

any way you slice it, that's a lot of different uses from just one item -
and that's what 'found' decor is all about!


Decor, All Bottled Up!

 when i say 'found' materials, people look at me funny.

 what i mean by that is stuff that you find in a field, or on a curb, 
or at a yard sale or thrift store, or in your own garage or barn.
stuff that most people don't even SEE.

i crawled under a table at a yard sale to reach for the tattered corner of a dirty cardboard box.
no one else had even given the box a glance.
i opened it to discover these cool old medicine bottles!

i didn't need to do much to them to use them as decor...
after a careful washing to preserve the original labels,
they were corralled on a round silver tray to show them off.
the two bottles that didn't have lids are serving a flower vases, holding happy daisies.

this is a collection of miscellaneous old bottles that i found in thrift shops.
some were very detailed, and some were rather plain.

i embellished them 
using my stash of vintage trims, jewelry, and papers.
the jewelry hung on them, but some of it could also be removed to wear.

 [some of these photos were featured in 
Romantic Homes Magazine, February, 2013
in the mention of homewardFOUND on page 12

i took the embellished bottles to a show, and some of them sold. some didn't.
which is fine, it just gave me the chance to do something ELSE with them:

so i painted them.
with white gloss enamel appliance spray paint.
and then i popped a few daisies & chamomile into them
and sat them on a silver tray.

i paid one dollar for that dirty box of brown medicine bottles.
and between one and three dollars for each of the clear bottles.
the silver trays cost me five bucks each.

i sold the first set for $35, and the second set for $45 
at the BarnHouse antique show. in the first hour.

here's the moral of this story:

these items were basically discards, with no inherent value to anyone.
all it took was an eye for using them in a new way
for them to have value and worth. 
THAT is what 'found' decor is all about. smile.
it doesn't take OLD stuff, either...
what about a six-pack of empty glass Coca Cola bottles for a patio table?
or maybe old glass baby bottles for a shower?
little glass yogurt containers for a brunch?
paint 'em. put 'em on a tray. fill 'em with posies.

you'll have some fresh spring decor all bottled up!


Don't Fence Me In!

i love using garden elements for decor.
watering cans, terra cotta pots, garden tools, birdbaths, fences...
especially fences.

over the years i've used old garden fencing in a multitude of ways...
i actually hauled a dozen vintage white wood fence sections around for ten years!

here are a few ideas to get YOU started!
* a section of fence as a backdrop in a vignette
it can be hung on the wall, or just leaned up there.

paired with a large garden urn, a large vase filled with lilac blooms,
and terra cotta pots that are stacked and tipped over, filled with various objects
[like balls of string and glass lamp globes and garden hand tools and seed packets]
keeps the whole 'garden' theme going...

another section of fencing was hung up higher and to the right, 
and another small section lies on its side below that...
the two pieces are visually connected  by adding some white wire garden fencing between them.
[this large arrangement was the focal point behind the cash register
during the spring vintage show on our farm in 2010.]

* fence pickets used as signs
i simply separate the pickets, and hand-paint them!
[that's also one of my headboard signs!]

* fencing as lumber supply: tables
 [the fence pickets have been separated from the fence structure before using as lumber]

another idea, shown below, is a little more complicated:
follow the white arrow in the photo, and you'll see
* fencing turned into a window awning

 some of the fencing i had hauled around for a decade was used in the making of it...
and that awning was used in four locations over five years!

* hung as shown above ^ in our antique store booth

*sitting on top of a metal tent frame in our show booth

* hung in my store on the farm (twice - two stores, two farms)

...and NOW it has been shrunk down in size,
and hangs over a bed in a young girl's bedroom!

fencing also works beautifully as:
*wainscot (lower wall treatment)
* headboards
* backs of benches
*shutters (hung vertically)
oh, yeah.... and in the garden!

have you ever used garden fencing as decor in your home?

*note: credit for the construction of the fence awning and tables shown above
goes to my late husband. he was very talented!*

shared online:

The Everyday Home Blog | Home{work} Wednesday
[thank you for the mention, Suzi at Worthing Court!]

cupcakes & crinoline | project inspire{d}