Olive & Cocoa: Entertaining Jewels To DIY or Not . . .

If you are like me and find yourself short on time to execute fun DIY projects for summer entertaining, then visit Olive & Cocoa for goodies that surely will fulfill your need to add that special touch to any fête.  The Stripy Straw Mason Tumblers above are a fancy, yet practical way to utilize mason jars for kids as well as adults.  With mason jars plentiful for bouquets, hostess gifts and more, I’ve meant to DIY my own outdoor mason jar glass collection using inspiration from C&B, our Pinterest board or the list of 50 Mason Jar DIY’s on Saved by Love Creations.  In the mean time, these Stripy Straw Mason Tumblers will do the trick so I can head off to the beach!

It seems that you either have to be a master pastry chef or a dedicated DIYer to wow guests with an amazing cake these days.  Since cupcakes are en vogue – we’ve even succumbed to the trend for our parties too – the simply elegant and less labor intensive cake is an overlooked iconic dessert item.  This Fete Bunting Cake Topper is a perfect decoration item to have on hand for your next celebration.  Sold in a set of three, this bunting with colorful wool felt flags will elevate any cake.  If you still would rather make the bunting, then check out Sarah’s step-by-step pennant tutorial; good for cakes, invitations and more!

Unique outdoor lighting accents for the table as well as the garden are also on my DIY list this summer.  In addition to using blue mason jars on a white tablescape, I am drawn to milk glass accessories that let the flowers and linens shine.  Milk glass is simple, neutral and a classic.  Without time to scour the web to expand my collection, I have found many DIY guides to create my own Milk glass objets out of more readily available glass.  But I’m out of time so the Milk Glass Tealights above will be perfect to create luminary vignettes in the great outdoors.

I am always looking for new ideas for place cards.  Not that we formally entertain often, but when possible it is another layer to add to a beautifully set table.  The Bubble Place Card Holders are unique because unfilled they would not be visually distracting from the rest of the table decor or you can fill them with buds or greens to be double agents:  place cards as well as low centerpieces!  Place card holders are no longer just a seating arrangement tool, they can set the tone for a party.  Remember the sailboat place cards?!

Lastly, party hats shouldn’t just be for kids.  I know that summer party attire is carefully chosen and not everyone loves a hat, but depending on the occasion a party hat could be just the accessory to make the photo montage more festive.  This variety package of  Chapeau de Fête at Olive & Cocoa is perfect to have on hand in your party closet unless you brush up on DIY party hat skills.  And, if your guests aren’t inclined to wear the hats, then they are colorful decorations to brighten the decor.

No matter which route you take – execute the DIYs on your list or scoop up a couple of items from Olive & Cocoa – hopefully this inspired you to delve into the details for your next party.  Not all of us have time to be Martha, but we can access great resources to make our parties just as special.  Happy Entertaining!

If you like this post, then you might like these:
Cathrineholm for Less
DIY Pennant Invitations
Oh Buoy!  Color Tipped Cutting Boards

Mudroom Makeover Brings a Welcome Change

I have a confession to make. This is what my mudroom has looked like for…well, let’s just say waaaay too long. Perhaps it wouldn’t be such a travesty if it wasn’t the main entrance people use to my house. I remember when we bought our house five years ago that I was so excited to have such a large mudroom, but then suddenly it became so small. It was small because it became cluttered with every item that entered our house. The jackets that didn’t get changed over properly from one season to the next, the hand-me-downs that were dropped off and the ones that I’d compiled to hand over to the next kid, the tote bags for the grocery store, and just about every other thing you can imagine would come into a house with two small children. It had gotten completely out of control! I finally reached my wit’s end and voila, we have a majorly re-worked mudroom that I now love to look at when I enter the house!

I started by going back to basics. We emptied the space completely and took down all of the shelving. Good news, it really is a decent size space! Then we painted the wood paneling Benjamin Moore Simply White (using the kitchen and bath paint because we live near the water and this room experiences the dampness that goes with that). This turned into a little bit more of a production than I intended, but once you start scraping a little bit of paint, it makes sense to go all the way so all the doors and windows got a makeover too.

I brought in the two chairs that I found at Brimfield last month, and actually their wood coloring and imperfections are what inspired me to go full speed ahead with a nautical mudroom (well, there’s probably a good chance I would have anyway with my track record, but they made the vision clear). I added a wire basket from Marshall’s to gather the kids’ shoes in. Then we hung a series of eight cleats that we picked up at the local ship supply store to hang our severely edited collection of coats (we actually do have two coat closets in the house!) and bags on.

They offer a perfect spot to display our favorite Sea Bags while also making them handy to grab as we’re heading out the door!

I had also picked up some used nautical rope when we were at the consignment ship supply store. You can easily find it new as well, but I like the vintage effect it adds, particularly since the chairs are vintage. I didn’t really have a plan for it and was actually envisioning using it in the garden, but it became obvious that the perfect spot to use it was going to be in this space. I thought about just winding it across the upper molding, but then I decided that spelling out a little welcome to our guests would be more fun and so I created this “ahoy” message for all to see when they walk in the door, and I added a little anchor stencil to ground it better in the space.

It only seemed logical that we post a farewell message on the opposite wall where people exit the house and while “fair winds” might have been slightly more appropriate, my husband and I both preferred the sound and the look of “bon voyage” to send our guests off with well wishes. And because I was able to scoop up so much rope at such a great price I even had enough to create a rope border along the molding around the entire space.

It so much nicer to walk into this bright and fresh space, and perhaps the most unexpected benefit of this makeover is the new view I have from the kitchen when I glance out the door. It’s so much more refreshing to see this space than the mess that once was.

There are of course still several more things we’d like to do in here. I hate the textured tile that is also in our kitchen and catches every bit of dirt (less than ideal for a mudroom). We’re also incredibly tempted to open that awful tiled ceiling up, but while we hope we’d find some nice beams, there’s a good chance that it’s just a mess that we’d have to fix and seeing as it took us this long just to tackle the mudroom at all, I think we’d better wait until we can tackle any problems that arise with that job.

But at least I’ve knocked one more think off my very long to-do list!

If you liked this post on my house, you might like these:
Sneak Peak: Nautical Stripe Staircase
Let There Be Light…at Last!
DIY Headboard and Duvet Cover

Gorgeous Bouquets Straight From the Garden

My garden is filled with my favorite flowers–peonies, hydrangeas, dahlias, lilacs, iris, and more, and I love sitting out back and admiring their beauty when it’s each of their turns to bloom. I very rarely cut them unless there is a special occasion to but I also love having fresh flowers in the house. The problem is that there never seems to be enough of them (especially the peonies!) to enjoy them both inside and out nor enough time to enjoy them, but I’ve turned a corner this year.

I’m vowing to not worry about what the garden looks like and just make beautiful bouquets to enjoy indoors at least once a week for myself…and others too. Yes, pretty soon you’ll be seeing the C&B Farmstand setting up shop in my front yard, and I’m so excited. I hope to have it up and running by next weekend, and you can be sure I’ll let you know about our opening day. Until then, take some time to stop and smell the peonies.

If you like gardening, you might like these:
Dahlia Bouquet
The Peonies Have Popped
A Beautiful Fall Wedding in the Berkshires

5 Unusual Things to Grill This Summer When Entertaining (Thanks to Williams-Sonoma)

As I was perusing the Williams-Sonoma web site yesterday in search of great Father’s Day gifts (for a story on Parentables, not for my own husband or father–sorry guys) I was totally inspired to get creative on the grill this summer. Honestly, I tend to leave the grilling to my husband, but I am capable of it (shhh! don’t tell him). But these grill tools might have me running to the grill every time we have people over this summer.

For one, the meatball grill basket. I mean come on! How fun is that? I have a feeling that these might be a sought after appetizer, and of course I like that they’re cute and I can find a fun way to serve them.

Next up is the quesadilla grill basket. I love a good quesadilla (they have cheese and I have a cheese tooth–it’s simple math), but I wouldn’t think to put them on the grill because that seems like a disaster waiting to happen when it comes time to FLIP! But clearly that is no longer the case.

Have you ever had a grilled potato? They are delicious, but the way I’ve had them is rubbed in butter and then wrapped in tinfoil. This potato grilling rack looks like it might be a healthier, but still appealing alternative.

You don’t often hear of a lot of people serving meatloaf these days, but I’m a fan every once in a while. I even have a meatloaf pan, and at one time I would make it once a month or so (it’s one of the only ways I find ground turkey tolerable), but I never considered grilling meatloaf, and I imagine that this would be quite delicious. Add it to my list of things to try out!

And lastly, the mini pizza tiles so that you can make personalized grilled pizzas to everyone’s liking. Grilled pizza is a big deal here in Rhode Island where it was quite possibly invented, and you can get some really good dough around here, but I’m always a little nervous to throw it right on the grill. I’m certain these would have me creating the next great grilled pizza masterpiece (at least in my own home).

Suddenly I feel like some invitations need to be sent out! Which grill tool are you most excited to try?

It Takes Two to Tango: Tangerine and Blue Color Inspiration

We are almost halfway through the Year of Tangerine Tango and we’ve had fun showcasing this color.  Remember Amy’s Eames chair DIYwindow shopping in Newport, and even celebrating the Golden Gate Bridge‘s 75 years of International Orange?  Well all of this fiery orange inspiration made me crave the serenity of blue.

A while back I pinned the beautiful Alberto Pinto Lagon place setting (above) because the combination of orange and blue was perfect.   The richness of the orange and the blue pop off each piece in harmony; this design reinforces that these are truly complimentary colors.  So to indulge my need for blue, I have pulled together my favorite shades of blue out of the recent Wisteria catalog.

Ikat Tea Caddy Lamp

Stackable Trays

Blue Durrie Rug

Navy British Colonial Cabinet

Moroccan Pillows

Iznik Melamine Plates

I hope you’ll agree that any of these hues of blue would be amazing with tangerine or any decor.  While I like all of these items, my favorite might be the Navy British Colonial Cabinet which is also available in, you guessed it, Orange!

If you like this post, then you might like these:
Turquoise Rocks 2010
Etsy Pick:  Vintage Favorites at City Farmhouse Antique
Feeling Blue at Venetucci Home

Nautical Chic: Sliding Porthole Bathroom Door

sliding barn door with port hole I am envious of Sarah’s punch list.  Mine is so long that I am not sure I would ever get through it.  However, today, we can cross one item off our never-ending list.  The kids room upstairs has been without a bathroom door since our renovation 3 years ago!  We finally hired our friend Cody Harple, from the Ding Shack to design and install a sliding barn door.  The hardware on the door is simple and the mirrored porthole adds a nautical touch that’s totally appropriate since my husband is a sailor and we live by the ocean.  sliding barn door for the bathroom

Sliding barn door with a port hole mirrorI also like the use of a mirror in the porthole instead of a window.  It reflects light from the front window and is already a hit with my toddlers who are already putting the stool up to it so they can make funny faces.  Now if I can just get some photos on my striped wall and door knobs on my closet doors I will feel a little better about the length of my punch list.

If you like nautical decor, then you might like these:
Open House: Amy’s Greenhouse Conversion
Upcycling the Office with a Nautical Touch
Ship to Shore Interiors Overlooking Newport Harbor

Griswold Textile for Discounted Designer Fabrics

I have somewhat of a problem when it comes to fabrics. As in I can’t walk into a fabric store without falling in love with a million prints. It’s a problem because it’s a fairly costly expense (those designer fabrics aren’t cheap–at all!), but I also don’t have nearly enough projects in  my own home to use them all for. Although, I could probably open up a fabric store out of my basement.

I’d long heard of this magical fabric store in Westerly, RI called Griswold Textile that sells discounted high end home fabrics, but had never been because I thought I’d get myself into too much trouble, but last week I made the pilgrimage with two partners in crime…and it was well worth it.

The reason that they have all of this fabric is because they’re the ones that hand-print the fabrics for companies like Clarence House, Lulu DK, and Hable Construction. But not everything that comes out of the mill is in perfect condition and so those seconds (most of which you can’t tell the problem with unless you look very closely or sometimes you can’t tell at all) are sold in the mill’s store at huge discounts. We’re talking $13-17 per yard for fabrics that can otherwise be over $100 per yard!

So here’s what I got (above). The pink and white on the left will be for curtains in my daughter’s bedroom makeover. The rest I have a lot of ideas for, but you’ll just have to wait and see what I use them for.

The only catch with this great find is that it’s only open during the week and only until early afternoon. It’s best to call them directly to check on the current hours, but it’s well worth the trip.

And if you can’t make it in person but love fabric as much as I do, check out the screen-printing process shown on their web site.

If you like this post, then you might like these:
Custom Draperies for a Fraction of the Cost
Mod Green Pod’s Special Edition 2011 Anticipate Fabric
First Chateau & Bungalow Designed Fabric Swatch!

Karen Robertson’s Nautical Wallpaper is Beach House Perfect

You know I love all things nautical so when I came across this removable and re-positionable wallpaper from The Karen Robertson Collection at Casart Coverings I was of course psyched. The monkey fist pattern takes a classic nautical item that we often see in accessories and makes it the star of the show instead of an afterthought.

The crab net wall coverings are equally as fun. This would be great in a powder room.

But perhaps the most genius item in this collection is the wallpaper stripes. No, it’s not striped wallpaper. It’s wallpaper available in 35 colors and 4 width options ranging from 3″ to 24″ wide so that you can get the perfect stripe on your wall either vertically or horizontally without having to fight with painter’s tape. And on a side note, how freakin’ awesome is that anchor artwork made out of starfish?!

If you like nautical decor, you might like these:
Sneak Peek: Nautical Stripe Staircase Makeover
Knot Nice
Ship to Shore Interiors Overlooking Newport Harbor

Oh Buoy! Color Tipped Cutting Boards

This tablescape is the perfect mix of industrial and country chic for beautiful, casual living.  From the varnished raw steel Mid-Century Cafe Seating by Tolix to the reclaimed Pine barn planked Longmont table to the tulip inspired New Amsterdam Dhurrie it is a vignette to consider in your loft apartment to your beach cottage.  My favorite detail in this image (and one with DIY potential if you need instant gratification) are the Color-Tipped Cutting Boards on the wall!

With five sizes and colors to choose from these Color Tipped Cutting Boards from the Sundance Catalog would be great in any kitchen.  Depending on the style of your kitchen these could be an additional nod to a nautical theme, or an artisan touch in an eclectic kitchen, or a colorful pop for the country chic look.  Another great find at the Palace of Catalogs!

If you like this post, then you might like these:
Etsy Pick:  Chevron Kitchen Art
Catherineholm For Less
Form Meets Kitchen Function Using Color

Outdoor Shower Makeover on a Budget

A few years ago my brother built us this outdoor shower.  We already had the hot water hook up and it only cost 75 bucks for the parts and installation!  It has been invaluable for rinsing post beach and I find having a rinse is the most refreshing part of my day.  I hadn’t really cared as much about the way it looked as the functionality of the unit, that is until I used it for the first time this season.  We installed it with no shelving or stool.  Only a few towel hooks.

It’s pretty empty and devoid of character.  So I decided to revamp it!

I adjusted the slate tiles and added some tropical plants.  There is an old cast iron gutter that lines the house and is not actually functioning as a gutter these days. I had the idea a few years ago to turn it into a planter box and this was the perfect excuse to give it a shot.  I lined it with a straw mat and filled the bottom with stone and some potting soil.  I added plants and some top soil and the planters were complete.  I  chose plants that were happy in partial shade and also in high moisture.  I also chose plants that will grow and drape over the side.

outdoor shower with gutter planter

Lastly, to solve the shelf issue, I looked online at all the options out there.  Most were super pricey and we like the idea of having something either re-purposed or handmade.  It dawned on me that we had a galvanized bucket sitting around and it would make a great shower caddy/ towel holder!

There you have it, an outdoor shower makeover that cost very little and looks a whole lot better!

If you like this post, rinse and repeat with some others:
Upcycling the Office with a Nautical Touch
Spring is Coming! Create a Garden Journal
My Favorite Day of the Year