Monday, October 20, 2014

Personalized pillows make great wedding, baby and housewarming gifts

Our daughter and her family surprised us with the most thoughtful housewarming present after we moved into our new home. I hadn't seen anything like it before and I was wow'd by the quality and creativity of the gift.

Here it is, a customized pillow from Finch & Cotter, an online retailer with its own website and a virtual storefront on Etsy. The pillow, personalized with our address, closing date and even the exact longitude and latitude, was done in sage (our colors) and is an amazing accent pillow for our home.

I absolutely love it and checked out Finch & Cotter's website for more information. It turns out that the pillows are handmade in Chicago to commemorate newborns, weddings and much more. Prices start around $25.

In short, they are beautiful, so thoughtful and creative that I can't believe I hadn't seen these before.

Check them out and let me know what you think.

All images below are copyrights of Finch & Cotter.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

NanaWall makes your walls disappear

It's a silly question but I bet you have thought about it on more than one occasion: What would it be like if you could make a wall in your home disappear?

Maybe you like the idea because you want to bring the outside in or maybe you just want to make a room look bigger. Whatever the reason, making your wall or walls disappear is do-able.

Image copyright Norman Sizemore
Here's what I'm talking about. This door folds away into the corner of the room, leaving an enormous expanse open between the two rooms. The wall has disappeared.

That's what we wanted and we got it.

Here's how:

We purchased our home when it was framed in, so we were able to make virtually all of the decisions except for a few, specifically, the windows. Unfortunately, they were already installed.

One window, in particular, bothered me. It was the window to our soon-to-be screened-in porch. Here's a photo of the window as it stood midway through the construction process.

As you can see, the window is tall with three frames; only the window on the far right opens into what will be the porch. We got to thinking that once we screen in the patio, we wouldn't get much air or light inside the great room if only one of those three framed windows opened.

The idea of limiting our light and air was claustrophobic. We wanted to find another solution, even if it meant replacing the entire window.

I asked our builder, Steve Lecas of Gander Builders, if he could locate a window I had seen many times before in my work writing on home improvement. I couldn't recall the brand name but I wanted a window that would open and accordion-fold to the side so that the entire opening would disappear. Fortunately, he knew exactly what I wanted: a NanaWall.

Naturally, we had to special order the window and it wasn't exactly cheap especially when you tally up the price of removing the old window, installing the new one and finishing the wall. However, we knew it would be worth it.

As soon as the new NanaWall was installed, you could feel the difference.

Here is our new NanaWall shortly after installation. It is framed in wood, which we sealed with white paint. Then, we added a weathered beam to the top of it to give it a rustic appearance.

Here it is when opened. Now, we have a wide opening to our screened in porch.  But we weren't done yet.

We decided to brick the wall around the NanaWall to give it a more rustic appearance. Next, we had the frame faux finished to match the wood in the beam on top of the window.

Image copyright Norman Sizemore
Here is the finished product with the NanaWall closed. The bricked wall and the faux painted frame are perfectly offset with the rustic overhead beam.
Image copyright Norman Sizemore
Best of all, open the door and it brings the outside right into the living area and makes the great room look twice as large.

Image copyright Norman Sizemore
It was absolutely the right thing to do and we were very pleased with the support so far from NanaWall and our local representative in Chicago, Matt Weber. For more information on NanaWall, visit the corporate website where you can search for a local rep.

What are your thoughts? Do you have a wall you'd like to make disappear?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

14 inspirational window box ideas

It's autumn but for many avid gardeners, it isn't too soon to start thinking about next Spring's planting season. Then again, for many people, ( I'm talking to all of you in warm weather climates) fall doesn't mean the end to growing flowers, especially in window boxes. I love window boxes and there is no better place to get inspired than in Charleston, South Carolina. 

Here are 14 beautiful flower boxes that I photographed in the fall. All are sure to give you plenty of inspiration for your own window boxes. Check them out!

Love the pop of red on this neutral building.

Black on ivory. So elegant.

Black on ivory with a vibrant pop of color.

This tone on tone window is another option.

A very soothing color scheme.

This combination is eye-opening. 

Clean, simple and sophisticated.


Not exactly a window box but the combination was too good to resist.

The cascading vines from this window box soften the hard lines of the window.

Very proper. For those with traditional tastes, this is the ticket.

Even at night, when this was photographed, the flowers against the white window frame contrast boldly with the black shutters and black flower box.

Another tone-on-tone window box with the box, shutter and walls all matching. Even the choice of foliage is simple. Put it all together and the effect is striking.

A bright, sunny window box that welcomes you and visitors to your home.