January 5, 2014 0

Nails, Nails, Nails

By in Inspiration, Nails

I’ve been so bad at sharing my nail art with you guys. Truth is, I was in a bit of a nail slump (lots of totally boring one-color nails) until I came across Small Good Things and her circle and triangle nails and brilliant DIY nail decals. A good color scheme is important – 4 colors or less is a good bet – and you can’t go wrong with circles, triangles and dots. Here’s to the end of the slump!

Click below for more images!
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September 22, 2013 0

Living Room Fireplace Restored: How to Remove Paint from Marble

By in Apartment, DIY

Our apartment building was built in 1905 and retains most of its original charm. I’ve seen a few of the other units in the building – they all share the same layout, just mirrored – which was enough for me to know that we were missing something. The other apartments boast marble and tile fireplaces in their living rooms while we had a white square surrounding an unsightly firebox, overrun with zealous attempts at a faux finish. It was ugly. Really ugly.

For the first few years, I dealt with this eyesore by putting our TV in front of it and pretending it wasn’t there. I thought that the marble had been removed or plastered over, that the whole thing was basically a lost cause.

Breathe that in. Faux oxidation. Green, red, blue and black strokes of good intentions gone bad. The original grate had been removed and replaced with a piece of wood, also faux oxidized in the spirit of thoroughness.

So, after ignoring the fireplace for years, I took a closer look. I noticed distinct tile shapes and felt cold stone under the paint. Could it be that some crazy person actually painted over perfectly good marble? Could someone really hate beauty? Yes and yes.

Determined to restore the fireplace to its original glory, I started researching marble-safe paint strippers. I decided to go with Smart Strip because it’s biodegradable, water-based and odor-free. You can find it online but I picked mine up at Sherwin Williams. Andy and I applied a thin coat of Smart Strip with cheap paint brushes and waited. In about 15-20 minutes the paint was ready to come off. We used plastic paint scrapers to be sure not to scratch the marble.

When we got to the little tiles, we found that some of them had been painted black and others left white, checkerboard style. Some were even painted red for fun. Maybe the checkerboard was too much for someone, maybe they hated Ska music and maybe that’s why they painted the whole thing white.

After all the white paint was gone, I tackled the faux oxidation. It came off easily and quickly and is now a distant memory. If you’re wondering what happened to the piece of wood, it’s gone! Andy realized that the metal grate that was hanging out in front of our dining room fireplace looked exactly the right size and shape for the living room firebox. And it was! It never fit the dining room fireplace and must have been moved there from the living room. Reunited!

It’s so pretty. Please just pretend that the walls are white and not the color of masking tape. That’s what I do.

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July 29, 2013 0

Learning to Love Flowers

By in I'm Obsessed, Photos, Styling

Until recently, flowers just weren’t my thing. I appreciated the sentiment whenever flowers were given to me but never sought them out. I associated them with their pollen-y scent (you still won’t catch me voluntarily sniffing flowers) and most of all, bugs. It only took one art conservation class in college to convince me that all plants inevitably lead to insect infestations and ruin.

And while I’m still wary of bugs I’ve come to really, seriously, wholeheartedly love flowers. They’re a stylist’s secret weapon and the key to making any room or vignette brighter and cozier. I try to bring fresh flowers into our home every week; just one little bouquet instantly makes our whole apartment a happier, more finished space. Best of all, my sweet husband always comes home with flowers when I’ve had a bad day or when we’re celebrating good news.

If you follow me on Instragram, you know I’ve been gramming tons of flowers lately. I can’t help it, especially since I’ve been bringing home lots leftover flowers from photoshoots. The. Best. Perk. All of the photos above were taken with my iPhone 5 and edited with VSCO Cam.

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June 4, 2013 1

My DIY Wedding Centerpieces

By in DIY, Wedding

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost nine whole months since the wedding. Even harder to believe, I haven’t shared any pictures of the wedding with you. I think I was just really wedding-ed out by the end of it and needed a break from everything wedding.

Of all the decorations we made for the wedding — and we made a lot — the components for the centerpieces took the most time. And I could have spent another month working on them to arrive at perfection. I even had my wedding party hot gluing paper petals and glittering table numbers at the venue right up until the rehearsal. None of us have been able to look at a glue gun since.

We decided on paper flowers for our centerpieces because there was no room in our budget for fresh flowers. I wrote about making paper flowers and double tetrahedrons in this post last year. Because we were working with paper instead of living things, we were able to make all the components in advance. I glued all the components onto cardboard cake rounds for easy transport to the venue.

Each (round table) centerpiece was made up of:

To assemble, I placed the vase in the middle of the cake round and started gluing flowers and shapes around it. The paper decorations were glued snugly around the vase, holding it in place. I glued flowers hanging a bit over the perimeter of the cake round to cover the raw cardboard edge. To keep the dowel rod and glitter number standing nice and straight in the middle of the vase, I placed a 2″ paper circle into the vase, poked a hole in it, and stuck the dowel through the center.

[photo by Danielle Bouchette]

[photo by Danielle Bouchette]

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May 22, 2013 1

JCP Goes Cute

By in Roundup, Trends, Want

You’ve probably heard all about JC Penney‘s image overhaul, complete with store renovations and a new business model. They’re shooting for a younger audience, enticing us with brands and designers we recognize and care about. They’re even going by a new, hipper name: JCP. The new stores feel more open, boutique-y and fresh. I had heard about all this and thought it was smart, but none of it drove me to visit a JCP store.

And then I read Maxwell Tielman’s post for Design*Sponge about Terence Conran for JC Penney. It blew my mind. It’s like they’re Target or something, in a good way. I immediately clicked through and found not only Design by Conran, but Happy Chic by Jonathan Adler and Michael Graves Design. There are a lot of solidly cute pieces, some more affordable than others.

Take a look. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

1. Bleecker Sofa | 2. Bookshelf Clock | 3. Katie Small Canister | 4. Lola Medium Canister | 5. Lucina Table Lamp | 6. Skipper Stool | 7. Elizabeth Square Pouf | 8. Lola Owl Bookends | 9. Charlotte Fabric Picture Frame | 10. Turquoise and Gold Picture Frame | 11. Celadon Candle Holder | 12. Celadon Footed Vase

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March 27, 2013 6

Box Cushion Makeover

By in DIY, Furniture, I have an opinion

I did it! I finally did it! I bought this chair over a year ago for only $25 with big dreams of dressing it with beautiful, gray wool cushions. After washing the cushion covers and replacing the foam, we lived with the orange, holey and corduroy cushions for over a year. I frowned every time I looked at them but I couldn’t bring myself to spend $40-100/yd for my dream fabric. And then my patience and frugal fortitude paid off when, at long last, I found the perfect black and white slub fabric at a surplus fabric outlet for $4.75/yd. I saved more cash by reusing the old zippers and quickly whipped up new cushions over the weekend. Hooray! It looks seriously handsome.

Wood frame, two cushion lounge chairs are a mid-century furniture staple. They’re fairly easy to come by, even easier to reupholster and certainly worth a little extra effort to restore. If you find one, here are a few things to check before you buy:

  • Test the frame for sturdiness. If it wobbles, it probably needs to be re-glued and that’s more work than most of us are ready for.
  • Is the wood and finish in good shape? Are there any major blemishes or scratches?
  • Remove the cushions (if there are any) and check the seat supports. Worn out jute or sagging rubber straps can be replaced. Rubber straps with metal clip-ends are a cinch to replace but you’ll spend around $50 for 3 straps. If you’re up for it, I recommend Fagas Straps by Evans Inc.

It’s pretty much a given with chairs like this that you’ll need to replace the foam and upholstery. If you know how to sew a zipper, you can make a box cushion. And if you’re extra fancy, you can add piping. Design*Sponge has a great box cushion how-to. The key to buying any piece of vintage furniture is knowing what you can and can’t fix and how much time and money you’re willing to invest. Be honest with yourself and you’ll be rewarded with furniture you’ll love forever.

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March 18, 2013 0

Vegan Chocolate Kahlua Frosting

By in Veganables

I love cake. I would eat cake for every meal if my health would allow it. I like my cake vegan and simple, my ultimate favorite is yellow cake with white icing. But sometimes, to spice things up, I like yellow cake with chocolate icing. And sometimes, when I’m at my most daring, I make yellow cake with chocolate icing + booze.

My all time favorite go-to yellow cake recipe is Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Golden Vanilla Cupcake Recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I tried a different cake recipe for the mini 6 inch round cake pictured above and it was a dry disappointment. But the icing was delicious! The recipe below is based on Alisa Fleming’s Amazing Mylk Chocolate Frosting.

Vegan Chocolate Kahlua Frosting
Makes plenty for 12 cupcakes, a 3-layer 6 inch cake, or 1 regular cake layer

1/3 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons soy or almond milk
1/4 cup Earth Balance vegan butter
3-4 tablespoons Kahlua, to taste
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

In a large mixing bowl, sift together cocoa powder and powdered sugar. Add soy milk and stir a little bit, this will help keep the powder from flying everywhere. Add the remaining ingredients and mix with a hand mixer on low until well incorporated. Mix on high to make the frosting nice and fluffy.

Kahlua icing is great on cupcakes, too. And I should know because I ate ALL of them.