by brae  

With the extended front porch, I have more room to add plants.  My first idea came from a real life photo of two tall topiaries on either side of a front door.  There is a similar item for miniature settings on the market, but I wanted them to have a "snowman" shape - a tier of three in varying sizes.

I found two miniature urns at a good price.  The image on the right shows how they looked after I painted them to the color I wanted.  I didn't go as dark as in the sample photo since my house is red brick and needs something a bit lighter.

I started with 1" styrofoam spheres and crushed them to make the two smaller sizes.  Here you can also see the holes I made in the spheres using a round dowel.

I covered the wooden dowels with floral tape and then brushed on a light coat of brown paint, wiping it off immediately to create a variegated color of green and brown for the stems (this is a photo before the paint).  Painting also eliminates a lot of the stickiness of the tape.

I glued some styrofoam into the bottoms of the urns to have something to stick the topiaries into and then painted the stryrofoam spheres and inserts brown.

I brushed a thick coat of tacky glue into the urns and poured tea (earl grey, if you're wondering-haha) into the urn, dumping out the excess after putting it aside for awhile.

I brushed glue onto each painted sphere and then dipped them in cilantro.  The bit of brown underneath showing through adds some depth and realism, in my opinion.

I have no idea if using tea and herbs is a good idea for longevity, but it was what I had at the time and I love the result.  They smell good, too.  :D

Here are my topiaries by the front door.  The welcome mat is a resized copy of one I bought since the original was too small in proportion to the front door.  I still have to mount it to some sort of reinforcing material to keep it flat.

Fabric printing - replicating a pattern

by brae  

I get a lot of my ideas for the Newport décor from real life size rooms in decorating magazines.  One of the problems in replicating those designs is not being able to find suitable fabrics in both color and scale.  Quilting fabric often comes in small scale patterns but sometimes I want as close to the original as possible.

Here's the room I plan to use as a guide for one of the rooms in the Newport.  I downloaded this image so long ago, I don't even remember where it came from.

The wallpaper for the room will be scrapbook paper in French Vanilla and Impatiens by Bazzill Basics.  Those were easy to find.

But, in my opinion, it's the striped fabric that really sets this room apart.  After reading about being able to use an inkjet printer to make custom fabric, I decided to give it a try.  There are methods out there to make your own fabric papers using freezer paper, but I decided to go with ready made sheets by June Tailor, Inc.  There were ten sheets in the package, and the cost was reasonable.

First, I opened the example photo in PhotoShop and copied a small flat section of the stripes into a new document.  I then used the eyedropper tool to select areas of the stripes and the pencil tool to make stripes in the same pattern as the sample.  It was mostly trial and error - figuring out which part of the sample stripe would give me the most similiar color and overall look and how wide to make the various stripes.

Once the sample was done, I cut a section and repeatedly pasted it along the left margin until I had a full vertical sample from top to bottom of an 8" x 9.5" canvas.

I copied and pasted that vertical piece across the rest of the document to the right edge.

Once I had a full sheet, I was able to do some color correcting to areas that hadn't seemed obvious in the smaller section.  It was time consuming work, but I ended up with a good match.

I printed a proof of the image on paper before trying it out on the fabric.  The proof on paper was brighter than the fabric print, but I had expected some loss of color and sharpness.  Here's how the printed fabric looks with the scrapbook paper.

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In the future, I might try brightening the image in PhotoShop to make up for color loss, but I am happy with the fabric for this particular project as is.  Here's how the sample compares to the original.

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Now, if someone can just tell me where to find that watercolor painting of the boats...

Update: I ended up getting this printed at Spoonflower (just uploaded my sample file) since computer printed fabric can be damaged by any water contact.

Dining furniture makeover

by brae  

For the dining area, I wanted a table and chairs reminiscent of Crate & Barrel, like their Avalon Extension Dining Table and Vintner Chairs.

I found this light wood table by Handley in a similar shape.

Here is the table after one coat of black paint.

The chairs came in a set by Mayberry Street including a round table, but the base of that table wasn't the style I wanted.  What I like most about these chairs is that they have a curve to them; the back isn't straight up and down.  Real life chairs are angled like these, whereas most of the dollhouse chairs I've seen are straight-backed.

I wanted the look of wood chairs with tie-on cushions not upholstered seats, so I removed the glued-on cushion from each chair with a palette knife.

I had to sand and sand and sand to get that glue off.  What a workout!

Here's the whole set painted black.  The chairs will need further sanding and another coat of paint (and I need to make the tie-on cushions), but the set is turning out very similar to the Crate & Barrel example.

Study flooring and wallpaper

by brae  

The first step of installing the flooring was to make a template of the room.  I cut a rough outline and then taped bits of paper to cover any open areas.  This method makes up for any warping there may be along the edges of the room.

I used dark wood flooring by Handley House; it comes on a paper backing so you can cut a single piece of flooring using a template instead of laying the wood down strip by strip.  I did have to piece the wood a bit by the fireplace wall since the sheet was not wide enough to cover the entire width of the room.

The flooring isn't permanently affixed yet.  There are a few gaps from the wall, but I think it turned out well for my first attempt at wood flooring.  I plan to paint the edges where the base floor will show to make the gaps less obvious, and there will be a baseboard around the perimeter as well.

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The wallpaper is scrapbook paper by The Paper Company appropriately called Parchment Tan; it is also not permanently affixed yet.  The furniture is by Bespaq, bought on eBay; the plant came from Hobby Builders Supply.  I am not sure if these pieces will stay here since I bought them for a different room, but they are closer to what I have in mind than the red velvet ones I had been using during the planning phase.  I made the rug and fireplace.

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Kitchen progress

by brae  

I knew I wanted painted cabinets, but I had a hard time deciding on a color scheme.  I searched through countless online sites for ideas and stumbled upon something I would never have thought of: red cabinets.  I like the cream upper cabinets shown in this photo I found online, so I am not sure if I will go with red for both the upper and lower cabinets for my kitchen or follow this example.

With red cabinets, the red brick wall I had originally planned for the kitchen would need to be modified.  Otherwise, it would be too much red.  I painted the brick white, which brightened up the entire room.  For the wallpaper, I chose Bazzill Basics scrapbook paper in a light grey/white called Glass Slipper; it has an iridescent sheen to it.  I needed something pale to offset the pop of red.

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The island, sink cabinet and corner cabinets are Euro Mini's.  I filled the hardware holes, because I wanted to put them higher on the doors.  It didn't make sense for them to be so low on the doors of floor cabinets.  For the sink cabinet, I wanted a different look than knobs, like the example above.

I also spackled the wall I had cut and reglued to have the door in the middle of the wall.  I didn't want the seam to show under the wallpaper.

I masked the tops and baseboards of the three cabinets and then applied one coat of Apple Barrel paint in Barn Red.  I liked that the wood grain showed through, so I opted not to paint a second coat.  I am still mulling over color ideas for the countertops and baseboards.  Once fully painted, I will add a coat of satin sealer to give them a shine.

There will also be two or three floor cabinets with drawers, but I haven't completed them yet.  The wood floor is one possibility, but I am also considering other options.  So far, I really like it.  :)

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