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Vanilla... Nice, Nice, Baby

I guess it's not hard to see where my inspiration came from for this decor scheme....

My autumn color palette always - ALWAYS - includes tones of vanilla.
From pale cream to warm ivory, I love this color.
Mixed with soft brown-sugar tans and golden caramel hues,
 it's warm and inviting and comforting....
and craving-inducing
(especially when I am burning a vanilla scented candle, which is every day!)

My last post showed you the wall o' shelves in my office/studio,
decorated for Autumn in my fave hues.
Today, let's look across the room at the breakfront/sideboard/dresser area:
(Let me give you your bearings, because this image can be confusing...
There is a wall behind the dresser-top display, 
with two mirrors and my inspiration board hanging on the wall.
That's why you see the wall o' shelves on the left and another dresser on the right - reflections)
My inspiration board is long and narrow, to fit in the space between the mirrors.
Every season, I swap out the photos and quotes pinned to it.

Oh, and the 'bulletin board' itself?
Cardboard boxes, laid flat, sized to fit the space, covered in gift wrap, and nailed to the wall.
 On the dresser/sideboard top, I mix and match and add stuff every season
to create an inspiring and pleasing vignette.

This season, I used wood and galvanized metal for depth,
with my ubiquitous white dinnerware to lighten it all up.
(dishes are not just for serving food, you know!
Add in creamy tones in bleached leaves and my Original Sweet Sweater Pumpkins,
and then the final details:
 A perfect cashmere pumpkin sits under a handmade wire dome / 'cagelet',
displayed on a cool white ceramic pedestal bowl with a plate on top.
 I made this wire folly YEARS ago (inspired by Alicia at Posie Gets Cozy!)
and I love changing it up every season.

I know, I know...
every time I share photos of this, I get messages and comments about making a tutorial...
truthfully, I haven't had the patience to break it down into the 20 steps it will take.
Not sure anyone would hang around to even READ a 20-step tutorial!!!!
 I tuck little sentimental details into my display here because I can see them when I am writing...
those two ceramic tiles were made my by creative daughter Brianna in her high school art class.
One is sunshine, one is rain... they sum up life for me,
and remind me every day of a sweet little redheaded girl who has always loved art.
I'm talking about Anni - but that applies to ME, too! ;)

One last area in my office is the dresser to the right of my long desk...
the dresser belonged to my Grandpa Ward, and I treasure it.
On top of the dresser, a classic alabaster lamp (found for TEN BUCKS at Goodwill!)
casts a warm light onto another gathering of creamy vanilla decor...
wood yardsticks, old papers and neutral gift wrap are stored in a miniature milk can,
and more Sweet Sweater Pumpkins are displayed,
one topped by two crowns under a wire dome - made from a tomato cage!
( and THIS one I DID create a tutorial for right here )
 I still have a bunch of bleached leaves and sweater pumpkins that I didn't use in the vignettes,
so I filled up two canvas totes and plopped them into my vintage wire shopping cart by the door.
 I think they just look like two scoops of vanilla bean ice cream!
My no-sew Sweet Sweater Pumpkin Tutorial is available FREE here.
Find my Bleached Leaf Tutorial here.


I Admit It, I'm Plain Ol' Vanilla....

While I love the occasional seasonal addition of a bright, happy hue to my decor,
I am basically a vanilla girl. 
Warm, soft neutral colors are my preferred palette, 
and my go-to design choices year-round are always pale and soft,
like a melted bowl of vanilla bean ice cream with caramel sauce.

Great. Now I'm hungry!

So anyway, each Autumn, while everyone else is decking their haunted halls 
with orange and rust and yellow, (or maybe black and purple)
I am creating serene, luscious, warm & cozy vignettes from shades of vanilla and brown sugar.

In Autumn, my Original Sweet Sweater Pumpkins in neutral tones are ALWAYS on the menu,
(see some of the ways I have used them in the past here)
 and this year is very, very vanilla....
In one area of my office/studio, I have small wall shelves over a daybed.
These provide a canvas for an ever-changing seasonal display for my collected treasures.
Here on these shelves, my pumpkins nestle into containers of many kinds:
Creamy sweater pumpkins perch on top of 
a rolled-up canvas military belt and an old roll of medical tape, 
as well as in a little galvanized bucket.
 My miniature clay pumpkins sit on the shelf and on the back of a vintage toy truck
(that reminds me of my Grandpa Ward's truck each time I look at it)
Coffee mugs with my initials serve as pedestals for a sweater pumpkin 
and a tiny 'found objects nest' that I made.
More sweater pumpkins simply sit on the shelves, paired with small ironstone pieces.

BTW, the 'bottom shelf' you see in the photo below?
Not a shelf, actually.
It's a wood window box turned sideways, sitting on top of a bookcase headboard.
Using it this way gave me added display space AND storage for the piece.
I simply MUST include a nod to my favorite year 'round decorative element: Mister Big Bear.
My mom gave him to me over 22 years ago, 
and he's been the go-to cuddle spot for sick kids and sick Deb, 
has absorbed a LOT of tears on sad occasions, 
and has charmed grumpy grandchildren into cheerfulness countless times.
He's family <3 ... and he doesn't mind being dressed up!

Follow my original tutorials to make your own:
Sweet Sweater Pumpkins
Mini Clay Pumpkins

Find more sweet vanilla decor in THIS POST!

Linked Up:

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Practically Functional | Creativity Unleashed


Faux Painted 'Concrete' Pumpkin Tutorial

painting, tutorials, faux painting, faux finish, faux concrete, patina, texture, secret painting tips, faux concrete pumpkins, faux concrete styrofoam head
I was inspired by a trip to Roger's Gardens Nursery in Corona del Mar, California
when I spied some HUGE, GINORMOUS concrete pumpkins at their store:

One look at them, and I had a craft project in mind!
My versions would be smaller, naturally, and also lighter in color....
 I wanted mine to be a bit more subtle and less scary than Roger's Gardens versions, 
so I went with lighter gray paint.
You can easily do this with dark gray and black paint to get the same results as in the photos up above...
painting, tutorials, faux painting, faux finish, faux concrete, patina, texture, secret painting tips, faux concrete pumpkins, faux concrete styrofoam headpainting, tutorials, faux painting, faux finish, faux concrete, patina, texture, secret painting tips, faux concrete pumpkins, faux concrete styrofoam head
Follow my tutorial below 
to transform some gaudy orange Dollar Tree pumpkins into concrete classics,
using my simple faux paint tutorial - including my 'secret ingredient'!

Faux Concrete Pumpkin Tutorial

styrofoam pumpkins (this canteloupe-sized pumpkin is $1.00 at the Dollar Tree)
acrylic / craft paint in white, black, and dove gray - matte finish
cup of water
palette (I use a paper plate)
paint brushes - large for base coat, smaller for details
and A SECRET INGREDIENT to be divulged later!

Step 1:
First, basecoat the entire pumpkin with white paint. Let dry.
Step 2:
Mix some gray paint into white paint on the palette,
then cover the pumpkins completely with this color.

(I left the stems unpainted until the end so I could use them as 'handles' while painting)

You will now be working in a 'Wet on Wet' paint technique, 
which means you will move on to the next step before the paint dries completely...
Step 3:
 Pour some straight gray paint onto the palette. 
Mix in a bit of water to create a runny consistency, to create a 'wash'.
Using a smaller detail brush, paint the grooves of the pumpkin with the gray wash,
and also the whole bottom (underneath) of the pumpkin.
Before the paint dries,
Step 4:

Add a little bit of water to the pale gray paint left on your palette (from step 2)
and brush it with a 'scrubbing' motion over the edges of the dark gray lines in the grooves.
You want to smooth out the edges, not cover all of the dark gray.
Leave some of the dark gray visible on the bottom of the pumpkin.
At this point, I painted the stems with the dark gray color.

Still working with wet paint over wet paint,
Step 5:
Add a bit more white paint to the lightest gray to make a very light gray wash.
Use the smaller detail brush to 'scrub' the white paint
across the top edges of the ridges on the pumpkin.
Blend this color in well so there are no divisions of color on the pumpkin - just smooth transitions.

While the paint is still wet...

Step 6:
Now is when when we bring in the SECRET INGREDIENT!
It's FLOUR. Bleached flour.
Yes, really....
Wet a small brush with a tiny bit of water, then pick up some flour and put it on the pumpkin, 
in the hollows and grooves of the pumpkin, where the gray wash is wet.
Wet your small brush and pick up more and more flour to get it all over the top and upper side surfaces.
 After the flour is on the pumpkin, use your fingers to press it into the wet paint and smooth it a bit.
Don't forget the bottom!

Let the pumpkin sit to dry for a few minutes.
The flour will absorb some of the paint's moisture, 
causing it to stick to the pumpkin.
After it is dry, brush LIGHTLY with your fingers to remove loose flour.
The flour left on the surface gives the finish the look of dry, flaking concrete.

It's not needed, but if you wish, you can spray the whole pumpkin with matte clear sealer
 or with hairspray. Works just as well!
painting, tutorials, faux painting, faux finish, faux concrete, patina, texture, secret painting tips, faux concrete pumpkins, faux concrete styrofoam head
 Your pumpkins will look like they are made of concrete, and they will weigh almost nothing!

This painting method will also work on plastic pumpkin buckets, 
making them look like hollow concrete planters & vases!
.(spray the inside of the bucket with gray outdoor furniture paint so it's waterproof)

I also used this method on a plain old styrofoam head form.... and it's awesome!

painting, tutorials, faux painting, faux finish, faux concrete, patina, texture, secret painting tips, faux concrete pumpkins, faux concrete styrofoam head
painting, tutorials, faux painting, faux finish, faux concrete, patina, texture, secret painting tips, faux concrete pumpkins, faux concrete styrofoam head
(that's one of my original Junk Queen Crowns from way back in 2008 on her head -
with bleached leaves added for fall )

I've used this paint technique in another project...
Come see what else I transformed with paint! 

shared online:

funky junk interiors | diy salvaged junk projects #440

thank you for the feature, Miss Donna! 

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yesterday on tuesday | project inspire{d}

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fall decor, fall home decor, decorating, diy, diy decorating, diy decor projects, fall crafts, pumpkins, sweet sweater pumpkins, glass globe pumpkins, faux concrete pumpkins, pumpkin decor, autumn decorating, sweater pumpkins


Haunted Mannequin

Once again, the master visual stylists at Roger's Gardens in Corona del Mar, CA
have outdone themselves with this years' Halloween decor...
the theme is 'Haunted Elegance', and this Haunted Mannequin is a perfect example.
She's elegant and scary and vintage-looking
she has secrets!

I thought there were some ideas here that could easily be used to create your own mannequin
for Halloween decor in your home...

The mannequin herself is a simple black cloth figure on a black wood stand - 
you can find those new or simply paint an existing mannequin form black.

Her first secret is her clothes. They aren't clothes at all.
See that cabinet behind her? It's holding damask and netting linens for sale.
The visual crew used it as fabric to create her wardrobe.
(It's kind of a 'Project Haunted Runway' thing going on there)

And there's another secret to be shared:
Her skirt has an underlayer to give it shape.
It's not a petticoat or a hoop. It's more a SKELETON of a hoop - 
created with
(drum roll, please)

( I LOVE using tomato cages as a decor element! See more here!) 

Cut open on one side and then bent and connected together, 
the wire tomato cages are partially wrapped with cloth tape (like medical tape) to hold them together - 
and it looks very musty and old.
Then the layers of fabric are added, tied on, pinned,
bustled and flounced to give her Edwardian-era gothic fashion style...
open in front to allow a peek at the underskirt framework.
A sash of black satin holds the 'skirt' on and is finished with a sparkling pin.

On her back, a swath of the netting tablecloth is gathered up to form a cowl collar on top,
and then fall like a cape behind her.
Her bodice is expertly adorned with bones.
Not an actual 'skeleton' showing her ribs, this effect is more artful and suggestive.
More bones on her shoulders give the effect of epaulets.

Bones can be found at the Dollar Tree or party supply store...
and no, they won't look like these!
However, after a wash of thinned light gray paint
and then some 'antiquing' with a dark gray paint wiped on,
you'll get an old, decrepit look to them.

...and then there's her jewelry!

This stunning necklace was created by combining multiple sparkling rhinestone 
pins, brooches, earrings, belt buckles, and necklace pendants.
The assemblage is pinned right onto the mannequin form, 
but you could hang a real assembled necklace on one, too.

I just love how the designers there come up with fun new ways to use materials
that we see EVERYWHERE for Halloween...
I mean, other stores put tablecloths on tables, for goodness sake.
But at Roger's Gardens, they elevate the everyday to ecstasy!

shared online:

Practically Functional | Creativity Unleashed

Yesterday on Tuesday | Project Inspire{d}


le Style du Jour....

On Saturday afternoon, I spent a lovely and relaxing few hours with friends
as we attended an event at a beautiful local vintage/antique shoppe...
Vignettes is located in Ocean Beach, Ca (near Point Loma in San Diego)
It is one of the prettiest antique shoppes around, 
and the events there are frequent, inspiring, and always CROWDED!

This event was the store's 19th anniversary celebration, 
and the decidedly French theme 'La Vie en Rose' was everywhere.
To my mind,  nothing was more stunning than the 'front room', 
which was all decked out as a boulangerie/patisserie.
 This color scheme is so perfect...
the deep charcoal chalkboards (made on bread boards, did you notice that?)
and blue-green pumpkins create contrast with the warm brown wicker, wood, and bread tones.
 Up close, the details are even more inspiring...
vintage labels made into patches on a burlap-covered bench, vintage signs, 
onions and pumpkins - and more gloriously rich wicker.

Even the simple addition of the word 'VIN' in black paint on a plain old wicker basket
adds incredible interest here.

...and can we talk about that SIGN???!
It's an old walnut and maple footboard,
with the simple addition of some painted lettering and varnish.
Tres Chic! (and tres eeeezeeeee, oui? )

I was looking everywhere, inspired, shooting tons of photos, 
and I kept thinking:
Why couldn't this stunning display inspire 
the color palette, theme, and accessories for a ROOM?
Why couldn't a kitchen look like this?
Why not? Inspiration is everywhere. 
And Francophiles would certainly feel right at home here!

This chair was NOT in this room. In fact, it was in another store altogether.
But if I were decorating, I'd PUT in in this room!

Then on Sunday, while I was decorating my office, I uncovered an old photo
torn long ago from a magazine (possibly 'La Vie Claire'.... but I'm not certain....)
To me, this is EXACTLY what the outside of that sweet boulangerie would look like:
See more from Vignettes on their facebook, website, and blog.