Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Trend Alert: Macarons!

So I've just become aware there is a "new" trend in the air with an old french classic: Macarons.

The cheerful & absolutely chic San Francisco pastry shop Miette has some of the best around apparently, 
even available to order up a box online.

Another supplier is Macaron Cafe, with a fabulous range of flavors.

And for some of the prettiest photographs around of Maracons, 
there is the Etsty shop Mr. Mo Photography.
Now to be honest, my interest lies purely in the fact they are just so pretty...because I can't actually recall if I've ever actually eaten a Macaron. So don't take my word for it, but I hear they are a "melt-in-your-mouth treat"!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Cheap & Chic from Scrapbook

I recently was introduced to a gorgeous blog named Scrapbook, written by Melissah who just happens to be located in a favorite spot of mine, Australia! I was immediately taken with what I saw and here is one of her posts, just to peak your interest...

Cheap and Chic


When it comes to decorating I am great believer in a little bit of imagination, good taste and style can get often get you a lot further than a pocketful of money. I started off my career as a fashion designer so I have always been handy with a sewing machine. When I moved out of home and moved into my a shared house I would get to work. I painted rooms, pulled up carpets and lime washed floor boards, whipped up curtains and doona covers on the sewing machine and put together a stylish collection of furniture from opportunity shops and second hand markets. Every place I have ever lived in has been cheery and homey. I think there's no excuse for not living in beautiful surroundings not matter what your budget!

I could not agree more Melissah, and to see more visit Scrapbook. Janell

{p.s. for those who may not know what a "doona cover" is, first of all it is not a typo! I googled it to make sure. Rather it is another term for a duvet...see, I've already learned something from her blog!}

Friday, August 26, 2011

Smart Strip Does the Job!

One of  the Sponsors of House of Fifty is Dumond, which has created a great product for the DIY'er, Smart Strip! I discovered Smart Strip this past year when I was experiencing a definite lack of success removing paint from a light's the post:

While looking for a light fixture to hang in the dining room, I remembered a fixture sitting in the garage that could possible work. The problem? I had previously painted the lovely brass with not only black spray paint, but PRIMER!! Obviously my intention had been to have the paint adhere extremely well, never in a million years thinking a day would come when I'd want the brass back!

After chipping away at the paint with a plastic implement proved to be successful, but excruciatingly time- consuming, I went online to see if there was advice for preferable methods.

One suggestion was to use a hair dryer. Yes, I just went back and looked at the article to confirm I read correctly. This in no way worked even remotely!

So I ordered up a can of Smart Strip, inspired by these claims:

Smart Strip™ by Peel Away® Paint Stripper is user friendly and does not contain methylene chloride, caustic or toxic chemicals. Smart Strip™ by Peel Away Paint Remover will NOT Burn Hands. Water based paint stripping formula. 100% biodegradable paint stripping product. Works wonders on painted brick, all kinds of wood products, metals, stone, plaster, concrete, fiberglass and much more! Great for Acrylic Paint, Latex Paint, Lead Based Paint, Oil Based Paint, Shellac, Stains, Urethane and Water Based Paints. AMAZING RESULTS.

After it arrived I laid out a heavy plastic tarp and slathered it on. (After a test, of course, to see if it would damage the brass. Thankfully it didn't.)

Then I waited, a couple hours...

...and then I noticed this! The paint was beginning to bubble up from the brass!

On the cap the paint literally did just peel away.

The smaller areas of the fixture are proving to be a bit more demanding, but wow. A product that actually has lived to to its claims! So...if you ever find yourself in my situation, regretting a paint job, you know what to do.

And I've just found out it works equally well on wood!

{More on this project soon at Isabella & Max Rooms}

Thanks Smart Strip, for a great product which makes many a DIY job significantly easier, and for sponsoring HOF!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

HOF Reader Karen Chisum

How much fun to receive this message from a reader of House of Fifty!

"I love love love your online magazine! I lost my job last fall and am now living my creative dreams like so many and appreciate all of the resources. Here is a photo of what I am up to…"

"We use only vintage frames, so each one is unique and one of a kind.  Our work can be found in 5 boutiques in California, including Inventori owned by Tori Spelling. Thanks for the creative inspirations!"

Oh, you are welcome! And look at some of the fabulous finds available at Karen's Etsy shop.

As Karen shares on her site:

"A leap of faith has provided our family of 6 with an opportunity to share our love for the unexpected by turning our creative urban hunting hobby into a small family business.

Our products are a mixture of urban + antique + vintage + retro + industrial styles."

Yes, I am loving these and can think of several uses...

Continued success Karen!

Monday, August 22, 2011

DIY ART: Ribba Frame + Marbled Paper = Fabulous!

Taking inspiration from the DIY Art project done by Kristen at kristen f. davis design, Danielle Oakey was able to stick to her client's budget while introducing a beautiful piece of artwork which enhances a guest room design beautifully!

{From the 'Design 101' article beginning on page 128 in the Fall issue of House of Fifty}

This could not be easier to do.

Ribba Frame from Ikea

Simply find an affordable frame...
{we love Ikea's options!}

Marbled paper from Paper Moho.

...and add a great paper of your choice.

A piece of a favorite fabric or wallpaper can be framed with equally effective results, just think of the possibilities!

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Problem With Comparison

Spotted recently on a friend's Facebook page, this caught my attention.

Oh, is this ever true. 

Whenever I find myself tempted to compare something I've achieved or something about myself with another person or their accomplishment, I can literally feel the joy seeping away from me. You'll always be able to find someone smarter, more talented, more accomplished, prettier, funnier, something just better.

So, I've learned to stop. (Well mostly...telling myself, oh don't go there, when I start down this path!) 
 Because of the above, and because of what follows:

Another downfall of comparison (when you find yourself coming up on the short end), is the tendency to then want to find fault with the other person or accomplishment, simply to make ourselves feel better. 

It's just not worth it, is it?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Street Of Dreams - Portland Style

The annual Street of Dreams home show in Portland is an event I always look forward to with anticipation! What fun to stroll through homes, seeing a wide range of architectural features, finishes and decorating ideas! It's my Nirvana.

While home shows have struggled to stay viable within a turbulent housing market, the local response this year was to showcase a collection of smaller homes with more realistic prices, all in the $800,000 to 900,000 range.  And though these homes still aren't affordable to the average home buyer, they are certainly closer than the homes in the past with price tags in the millions.


Frank Lloyd Wright inspired architecture was the highlight of this home, and it is a style that looks very much at home in the NW with it's emphasis on materials of wood and stone.

Each home featured covered outdoor spaces with fireplaces...a dream for our own backyard. With rainy weather much of the year, covered outdoor areas make it possible to enjoy being outside beyond the summer months. 

The highlight of this house was the built in closet with quality cabinetry and substantial shelving...

...the flooring and bar stools...

...and the masculine elements in the banister, entertainment wall and carpet.

With the new economy there was considerably less emphasis on decorating the homes to the level seen in
previous years, which was disappointing. But I loved this felt flower poof {DIY project anyone?} and stainless steel dresser!


I always find myself drawn to Tudor style exteriors.

And while my family tends to dash out of view whenever I pull out the camera these days, on this evening they strangely made no effort. So please, no complaints about being on my blog today....

This home had the best outdoor space, well dressed with a peeks of the view beyond.

There was a nursery with high ceilings and unusual architectural details, which were sadly not taken advantage of in its decor. A Juliette balcony was the focal point in a girls room, with stunning views from the master.

This was the best decor idea I saw in the entire show. A lattice cutout creating a whimsical and striking backdrop behind the bed in another girl's bedroom.

The tile and the wood flooring in a similar tone were fantastic!

Technology was the star of this home, creating a "smart house", with all its functions able to be controlled from an iPad! It would be interesting to see how this would change how you lived in the home.

As we were leaving through the garage I was puzzled to see this really fun piece of furniture sitting forgotten in a corner. Surely a place could have been found for it somewhere within the home!


Home number three was the least impressive or interesting from the exterior, but it had the best kitchen of all the homes.

Right up my {design} alley, I loved the modern touch brought in by the zebra wood island.

A back hallway and stairwell featured a built in seat and a set of message boards. Another great DIY project.   Anyone up for creating two side by side boards, one magnetic and the other chalk? This hall lead to the second outstanding room in this home, a flex space with floor to ceiling windows and access to the backyard. 

If this were my home I'd be claiming it as my home office!


This home was the Paula Deen home, featuring her new line of home furnishing.

And look, she was on site to welcome us! 

While a little overdone for my personal taste, it had a very warm and homey feel, with very well appointed interior and exterior kitchens. Well, it is Paula's home after all!

The built-in cabinetry in the dining room...


...and nook in the master entrance, as well as the mudroom, was the outstanding feature in house number four. 


I somehow missed snapping an exterior shot of house five, but I was very excited by its potential upon seeing its gorgeous dining room and how beautifully it was decorated and furnished!

The outdoors had a fun and somewhat strange exercise area that I could barely pull the "kids" away from...

...which gave me time to spot a SOLD sign on the plants in the backyard. Odd to see the plants have sold while the house hasn't, I wonder why.

The answer to that question was provided upon entering the kitchen. I'm speechless.

{Rather, I became speechless when my husband suggested I be less vocal with my opinion while touring the space.}

This finish. Why?

I wasn't the only one looking for an answer.

The "why" only grew as I saw the cabinetry finish continued through the media room, family room, laundry room, and all the bathrooms. 

But regardless of this strange conclusion to the show, what a fun way to spend an evening!!