October 26, 2010

You Are Still Cordially Invited

In case you missed it, I'm having a CAbi Party on Thursday, November 11th at 6:30 PM. Check out all of the details. See the collection of beautiful clothes. Take a peek at my projects; talk to me about yours. Gab with great women. Eat lots of food. It's a girls' night in!

Want to come? Yay!
1. Send me an email at w.design@live.com to let me know who you are {as always, no killers allowed!}.
2. Let me know if you're bringing a friend so I can plan for enough food.

New clothes, fun women, food, and talk of paint - what more could you want?! Hope to see you!

October 25, 2010

A Corny Project? I Don't Think So.

The gurus at Pottery Barn did it again. They sent their Fall Catalog to my home, sucking me right into their perfectly decorated world. I've thumbed through the pages of each and every one of my Pottery Barn catalogs more times than I can count, admiring furniture, room arrangements, paint colors and accessories every time. One particular page that struck me was one that featured a table set for a Thanksgiving feast {or maybe just Tuesday night's dinner} and showcased a beautiful centerpiece with Indian corn and a candle aglow.

Image Via
 I knew this had to sit on our dining room table. It's on, Pottery Barn.

I wasted no time picking up some Indian Corn at a little Farmer's Market {about a dozen ears} and gathered some raffia ribbon and brown ribbon, a large glass candleholder that sits on our patio table all summer, rubber bands, and tape.

With my supplies at hand and my Pottery Barn catalog nearby for a cheat sheet, I placed a rubber band around the candleholder and started adding in ears of corn.

When the entire candleholder had been surrounded with corn, I placed a second rubber band around it for added security.

Next I cut a piece of brown ribbon to fit around the rubber bands and taped it in place. I tied a few pieces of the raffia ribbon over the brown one and called it complete.

Pretty easy! Who's bringing the turkey?

October 21, 2010

Having a Spooky Party? Give Yourself a Hand.

Halloween calls for a party, at least we think so in our home. My husband and I host a Murder Mystery every year when the spooky holiday draws near, and this year is no exception.

Serving a large dinner is always part of the tradition {complete with lots and lots of extra goodies}, and sometimes I like to throw a little something extra into the mix, like a frozen hand.

Don't you think your next party needs a frozen hand? And it's such an easy party trick; just remember to prepare at least a day in advance of your get together. Pick yourself up a couple of disposable gloves {powder free!!} and rubber bands {one per glove}. I usually make two frozen hands just in case something bad happens to one. Nothing bad has ever happened to one of my frozen hands, but I like to be prepared, you know?

Just like with any food prep, rinse the inside of the gloves before filling them with water. And remember - powder free! No one wants to drink punch that has acquired a powdery taste as the night goes on. Fill your gloves with water, leaving just enough room at the base to secure with a rubber band.

Pop your gloves into the freezer and forget about them so you can get back to cooking, baking, and cleaning like a banshee.

On the day of your party, just before guests arrive, remove your frozen hands from the freezer, unwind the rubber bands, and cut the gloves free. I run a bit of warm water over the gloves for a few seconds first to help ease the ice away from the gloves. Plop the hands into a bowl of your favorite red punch - pretty easy!

Have fun, have some punch, and give yourself a hand for adding a fun element to your party.

It's Showtime!

I put my husband to work on a project over the weekend, but I think he was more excited than I was about it. So excited that it was he who suggested we go pick up lumber the next night and summoned his dad {remember my father-in-law, the ninja?} for help right away. That's pretty impressive. Want to know the magic words? "TV" and "Stadium Seating" - that's all it took.

We made a space for a second living room and bar area in our basement when we remodeled a few years ago. While we use our upstairs living room as a gathering spot for family, kids, conversation, and fun, our downstairs living space has always been reserved for watching the big game or family movie night. We had a wonderful entertainment center that my father-in-law built for us, but the room lacked the feel of a real theater. Plus, I wanted to rearrange the furniture. This is what our room looked like before.

A leather couch and loveseat sat perpendicular to each other and positioned around a coffee table -a pretty traditional living room arrangement. Opposite the couch sat the entertainment center.

The idea for stadium seating actually came from an HGTV episode of Design on a Dime, where the designers had a platform built for the lucky family's theater room. I only caught the last few minutes of the show, but that was enough for a lightbulb to go off in my head. I didn't even like how the Design on a Dime room turned out, but I knew the stadium seating idea could work for our space. I Googled "how to build stadium seating" and found the perfect plan. 

My husband was on board with the idea right away, but before we dove in, we had to make sure that we really wanted the room to be a theater room and not a conversational area. Because with the couches placed one behind the other, the conversational vibe would pretty much be killed.  Ten seconds after I brought that up, my husband said, "I'm sure." The second thing to consider about this project was spacing. We positioned the couches in their future spots to ensure that there was enough space between the front seats and the television. There was. Alrighty then; we were on our way.

Following the simple plan we found, my husband and father-in-law constructed a platform with a corner step in just a few hours. Into the basement it went, and after a coat of paint {semi-gloss exterior finish - we wanted something that would be forgiving to spills}, the platform was ready for business. We removed the coffee table and placed the couches in their new homes. For less than $150 {the cost of the building supplies and a quart of paint}, our living room became a home theater.

I've gone a little crazy with the pictures! Did you catch the missing lightbulb over the bar?

This was a really fun project. $150 packed a whole lotta punch. And I'm not finished! I still get to accessorize the sofa table that we stole from our upstairs living room. Right now it's holding a few random items and the books that used to sit under the coffee table, but I get to shop the house or go Goodwill Hunting for something new.

Pass the popcorn, please!

October 18, 2010

Painting a Mirror: So Easy, a Caveman Could Do It

So back in college, when everyone else was involved in tomfoolery {not me, I swear!}, I liked to scout out garage sales and Target for cheap ways to liven up my room in the townhouse I shared with six other girls. Yikes - that's a lot of tomfoolery! I found out how many different arrangements my room allowed with a twin bed, dresser, and TV {exactly two}. I kept my closet in ship shape with clothing hung according to sleeve length and color. And I accessorized as much as I could with the little wall space I had. Two of the best investments I made in decor happened to be for that little room in college. I picked up a Shabby Chic mirror and shelf from Target that originally came painted a sage green. Nine years later, I think I've painted that mirror and shelf at least four times, and they still look great!

The mirror was last red for Lou's nursery:

Stunning! But I needed to take the Lady in Red down and make it work for the girls' new room transformation. The new room's colors will be a mix of Rhino by Behr {Remember? One of the most wonderful colors on Earth?}, a silvery beige, a grayish turquoise, and dark brown. So the Lady in Red will now be the Damsel in Dark Brown. I picked up an 8 oz. trial size of my paint choice at The Home Depot. {Less than five bucks and big enough to paint a few accessories!}

Two coats of paint later, and the mirror was transformed. All this babbling, but here's a useful tip. When you're painting a mirror or any frame on a piece of glass, you don't need to take the time to tape it. You can, of course, but I'm usually either too lazy or too busy keeping four kids alive and well. Instead, I paint away, and after the paint dries, I use an old calling card or a credit card to gently scrape the paint off of the glass. So easy, a caveman could do it!

Here's a sneak peek at the mirror in her new place, waiting for the rest of the room to come together.

As not to feel left out, the same shelf from college also got a couple coats of the same lovely brown. She's waiting anxiously to join her old friend, the mirror, in their new home. Happy painting!

October 17, 2010

You Are Cordially Invited

I'm having a party, and you're invited! Besides painting, decorating, organizing, and creating invitations, announcements, and cards, entertaining friends and family tops my list of most favorite things to do. I go all out for birthday parties, baby and bridal showers, summertime backyard BBQs, and even our annual Murder Mystery with friends. So I'm loving the thought of bringing friends and readers together for an evening of fun, a girls' night in, brought to us by CAbi.

Have you heard of CAbi? CAbi stands for Carol Anderson by Invitation, and it's a different way to shop for clothing. The idea is the same as any other home party, where guests can shop for food, home decor, candles, etc., but CAbi is so great because it's clothing! Yay! The parties work like this. First, our fabulous CAbi consultant, Becky, will show us all the great blouses, sweaters, tees, vests, dresses, skirts, pants, and jeans.

Then, we squeal like girls in college getting ready to go out as we try everything on {In separate rooms, behind closed doors, with the drapes closed, of course - I'm not running a peep show for the neighbors or anything!}. Next, we eat delicious food, drink some wine, give each other tips and tricks for what works and what doesn't and what looks fab and what doesn't quite make the cut. I've been to one of Becky's parties. She is a fashion guru and has all kinds of tricks up her sleeve to make you look hip - even when you're just running to the grocery store for a gallon of milk.


You don't need to commit to buying anything to come to the party. Come. We'll eat, drink, try on clothes, look around the house, see my projects, and talk paint {I think I always manage to talk paint!}. It's a fun way to spend a night with other lovely ladies and possibly score some new clothes!

Details!! This bash is taking place on Thursday, November 11th at 6:30 PM at my home. If you live in the Western Wisconsin area and you're interested in coming, email me at w.design@live.com and let me know how I might know you {a mutual friend, a neighbor} so I have peace of mind that you aren't a killer. If I'm friends with you on Facebook, look for an event invitation. And if I see you from time to time, I may just spring one of these on you:

These are, without a doubt, the fanciest home party invites I've ever seen. I thought I must have made quite the impression on Becky when I met her, but it turns out she has these beauties made up for each and every one of her CAbi hostesses.

Want to come? Great!

1. Email me at w.design@live.com to let me know who you are {remember, no killers!}.
2. Let me know if you're bringing a friend so I can make enough food.

New clothes, fun women, food, and talk of paint - what more could you want?! Hope to see you!

P.S. Look forward to tips and tricks of throwing a fabulous party; I have many to share!

October 14, 2010

Hey You!

Yeah, you!! I've been hearing quite a buzz about projects some of you have tried. You've painted your cabinetsredecorated spaces, painted a pumpkin, organized closets, and even painted your fridges. If you've been inspired by something you've seen on W Design, send me some mail and some pics. I'd love to hear about your decorating adventures and even show other readers what you've been up to. Contact me at w.design@live.com.

October 13, 2010

My Father-in-Law is a Ninja

I am so excited. My oldest three children have always begged for bunk beds - begged. Our answer was always the same, "You have very nice beds. You don't need bunk beds." Well, it turns out the kids keep growing {who would have thought?}, and their needs continue to change. While Charlie used to be perfectly happy spread out on the floor playing with Matchbox cars for hours at a time, he's now more interested in drawing and constructing projects that require a smooth, flat surface.

And Greta and Frankie, though their room is big, have a hard time keeping a space clean with toys and clothes and beds and everything else girls need.

So we started thinking, and we thought, "Maybe??? Maybe bunk beds would be handy?" It turns out that bunk beds would be very handy, especially ones that are customized to our exact needs! Charlie doesn't need a second bed, but he could use a bed that's lofted over a large desk. And Greta and Frankie could certainly benefit from having all the extra space that bunk beds would provide. And another idea - what if all three girls shared one large room, and we made Lou's nursery into a play room? We could do a wall of bunks, with one side having a desk/vanity table space on the bottom.

Wouldn't these girls look sweet sharing a room?
How about in their teen years? {We're not thinking that far ahead!}
One problem: bunk beds are pricey, especially ones so specific. The solution: my father-in-law.

Have you met my father-in-law? Dave's dad is a wood working ninja. He has an awesome talent for building furniture. And he's been very generous with building beautiful furniture for us for birthdays and Christmas and even just because. He made a gorgeous baby cradle that each of our tiny babies has slumbered in.

He built our dining table. He built our bar. Ready for this one? We handed him a couple pictures of this entertainment center from the Pottery Barn catalog,

and he made this:

I told you he's a ninja. So my father-in-law has agreed to build customized bunk beds for his favorite grandkids {his only grandkids} for Christmas. They know about it. Oh, believe me, they know all about it, and every single day they inform me that "Grandpa is building us bunk beds for Christmas!" As though I could forget!

So I'm taking this opportunity to make the most of these bedroom transformations and redo their rooms to suit them - their personalities, their wants, and their needs. Of course I'll be painting. And I am so excited. I think I already told you that.

Stay tuned!

October 12, 2010


I love photographs - love, love, love them. I have photos framed and placed all over the house.

My husband thinks I have an unhealthy obsession with trying to get just the right shot. Can you blame me? I'm trying to capture a moment in time! He'll thank me someday. A home filled with photos tells several stories, reminders of people and places and pets and special events - memories. But over the years I've found that photographs aren't the only items suitable for frames. Special letters, love notes jotted down in hurried moments, cards, and oodles more can all be framed, and they all have that same effect of evoking memories and personalizing our spaces.

One of my favorite framed items is my mom's recipe for chili. Before my wedding, I asked her to handwrite several of her recipes for me. Her recipe for chili is a favorite of my husband's and mine, and I placed it in a double frame alongside a picture of her and myself on a day that we were doing some shopping for my wedding.

I keep the frame on a counter in the kitchen. It's both functional and personal; it's something I'll cherish for the rest of my life.

We have a space downstairs that outfits a bar and a second family room/game room/media area, and we've devoted the wall space and decor to photos and momentos from vacations. One of my favorites includes a frame with some memories from a trip to San Juan. My husband and I were there for an evening, a stop on a cruise, and we had dinner at a restaurant called Barrachina. Barrachina's claim to fame is that it's the birthplace of the Pina Colada. Obviously we had to indulge in that! I picked up a business card from Barrachina along with one from a cigar shop we stopped at that same evening and put them, along with a photograph, into a frame to remember the trip.

Cigars and Pina Coladas
Old San Juan
Jan. 2008
In that same room, along with vacation photos {and business cards!}, we've included maps from some of the places we've visited. This is a tradition that started on our honeymoon in Jamaica. A framed map of the country is displayed in the middle of some of our most favorite honeymoon photos.

We bought a map of the Virgin Islands and framed it among pictures from that trip, as well.

One of the most special things I've framed isn't a picture or a map or a card. It's a small pin of a Lily of the Valley.

The Lily of the Valley is the birth flower for the month of May. My father's birthday was in May, and the Lily of the Valley happened to be his favorite flower. He passed away several years ago, and whenever I spot the special flower, I think of him. This one sits on my dresser where I see it everyday.

Letters or quick notes from loved ones also make the list of frame worthy items. They're personal glimpses into special relationships; framing them is a great way to fill your home with memories.

Just make sure whatever note you're framing is something you're comfortable with your grandmother reading when she comes to visit! {It's probably best to keep anything hot and heavy tucked away in a box labeled "Bills and Boring Documents"!}

Of course, you can always get crafty and frame something you made, like the "W" in our master bedroom.

What an easy way to add personality to a space!

I'm kind of on a roll with framing anything other than photographs; I'm even thinking of framing my daughter's school lunch menu. Why not? I look at it Monday through Friday! I think it deserves a frame. What have you framed today?
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