Monday, March 30, 2015

Idea for decorating those awkward foyer and staircase windows

Those high windows above staircases or above entry doors in a foyer may let in a lot of light, but they can pose a decorating dilemma. They look bare on their own, yet are not candidates for traditional window treatments such as blinds, curtains or drapes.

I had exactly that problem. I have an odd window. It is 12 feet above the staircase turn landing between my first and second floor and it is a double-hung window. It was there before we bought the house; windows were in and framing was done, that's about it. So we couldn't do much about the window and frankly, truth be told, we missed it amid all the other decisions we had to make.

So, now we have this enormous double-hung window 12 feet above our stair landing and we didn't know what to do with it. We were stumped. We'd never open this window. To put some kind of window treatment on it seemed odd. Moreover, fabrics, blinds or even shades would get dusty and dirty there and I didn't want to clean them and watch the cobwebs grow.

Our home is done in the American Bungalow style, which was prevalent from the 1890s to the 1930s and 1940s, so it was was built then, chances are it would have included some stained glass windows. Because we love stained glass anyway, this became an easy decision.

We went to Sheri Law Art Glass in Homer Glen, Ill. We were already using Sheri to create some privacy in our master bathroom window (see that story and how it turned out here). We presented our dilemma and showed her photos of her our home so she could get a feel for our style and the color palette. She paid particular attention to our wall color, the colors in the stained glass fixture already hanging in the staircase and even wanted photos of our carpet. 

From there, she created some sketches and we chose one we especially liked. Then, came the fun part. We sat down at a table in her office and got to select colors from an enormous collection of stained glass in all shades and opacities. 

Here is a photo of the sketch we approved after selecting colors and finalizing the drawing.

A few weeks later, the windows were ready to be installed. They are installed right over your existing windows, so if you ever needed or wanted to remove them, you could.

Below, windows are installed over the existing lower double-hung windows.

Next, eight separate pieces of the design are installed in the upper portion of the double-hung windows.

When it is completed, the result is everything we hoped it. It really finishes off the window perfectly and still keeps with the style of the house.

Do you have one of those strange windows? Let me know and tell us how you dealt with it.

Monday, March 23, 2015

7 gorgeous outdoor table settings that will whet your appetite

Whether you are planning on entertaining outdoors this spring and summer for a graduation, birthday or a simple cookout, you may want to consider taking your table setting up a notch.

I visited the Chicago Flower & Garden show this past weekend and the table setting there, mostly created by event planners and caters, were to die for. Now, whether you want to mirror these ideas yourself or hire a caterer to replicate them, you can be sure that you will have the most beautiful dining spot in the neighborhood.

#1 Victorian Garden Setting...that's what I call this one. I love the dreamy palette of blues, violets and greens. Shelving on the left could hold desserts, beverages and other accompaniments. The wicker high-backed seating is regal. Moss works as the table cloth with pink satin napkins. Seating on the long lengths of the table is provided by fancy velvet sofas.

#2 Zen Dining...An Asian motif takes this table setting of an intimate dinner party for four to the extreme of calm and peacefulness. I love the red table runner with the fushsia flower arrangements. Who would have thought they'd go so well? Yet, they really give drama to this otherwise simple setting.

#3  The Ordinary Gets Extraordinary...There is nothing difficult to replicate in this table setting yet it is definitely not ordinary. Actually, here, like in many of these table settings, the indoors came outside. Indoor dining chairs, a velvet curtain and indoor china are the hallmarks of this dining venue.

#4 Palace Seating...Okay, this one is tougher to mirror given the moss or ivy covered walls. Yet, what you can pick up from this table setting are the gold accents, which are everywhere! Also notice the mismatched gold chairs, the name tags hanging by a red ribbon over the chair backs and the elegant menus on each placesetting. The rich pinks and reds against the abundance of green make this table setting truly striking. To me, it looks like a table in the Queen's hideaway at the Palais Versailles.

#5 Romantic Hideaway...This table setting looks like something you'd find in The Secret Garden, hidden away, far from prying eyes. Nestled under an arbor is a table for two. Again, indoor seating seems to be the theme in yet another table setting. Green is the primary color seen in everything from the placements and table accents (notice the tall apothecary jar) to the votive candles. Tree trunks work as accent tables and pine cones abound.

#6 Water and Sky...Refreshing shades of turquoise, blue and green dominate this table setting, which again, if you take it piece by piece, is quite simple. A glass table is used, which is usually found in most outdoor dining tables. The mason jars, water goblets and curtain pull the color theme together and make for an intimate dining alcove. The centerpiece is very simple...just a grouping of terra cotta pots with colorful blooms.

#7 A Little Bit Country....I really love the feelings of nostalgia and cozy, down home atmosphere that this table setting evokes. Bright red plastic crates holds plants and other items. A unique planter, designed to look like a white picket fence, holds herbs and other plants. Vintage gym locker baskets hold other items on the left. The table itself is very simple. Retro chairs, (surprise! no cushions) keep it simple. Bright plates and colorful flowers make the table far from boring.

How about you? How adventurous do you get when dining outdoors? Do you keep it simple with paper plates and plasticware or do you go to the extreme once or twice for the fun of it?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

How to get privacy in a bathroom window

Do you have a window that is hard to reach or one where you crave privacy above all else? I'm talking about those round, half-circle or octagonal windows in a tall foyer or those windows that are in your bathroom or above your soaker tub?

It can be hard to figure out what to do with these windows. Do you put window treatments on them? Nah, seems strange to do that in a foyer when you can't even reach the window. And what about that bathroom dilemma? Do you install blinds or shades on the window and keep them closed 80% of the time?

I've discovered what I think is a better solution and it's a solution I used in my own home.

First off, my master bathroom. It has a large window on the wall behind the vanity and while it is about four feet off the ground, you can't help but feel like you need more privacy. I love stained glass, so we hung a piece of art glass in the window. Unfortunately, it left plenty of viewing area around the sides, so it didn't give the privacy we desired.

Since we love art glass, we decided to have to Sheri Law Art Glass Ltd. design something simple for the lower half of the window only. Sheri Law doesn't specialize in just beveled and traditional stained glass, although she does great work with them, but she creates all kinds of glasswork, including antiques mirrors, carved and etched glass, glass for entryways, transoms, backsplashes, bar mirrors and more.

We had an idea of what we wanted before we even visited her showroom in Homer Glen, Illinois. We wanted to create a diamond pattern with beveled glass that would match the transoms in the kitchen of our house.

Sheri gave us what we asked for and took it one step further. She found a diamond shaped beveled glass with a pattern that gave us the privacy we wouldn't have gotten from clear beveled glass alone.

Her design was ready a few weeks after our initial consultation and it was installed over, yes over, our existing windows in about a hour. It is portable art; if we ever sell the house, we can remove the beveled glass and take it with us. Alternatively, if someone buys our home and doesn't care of the glass, they can remove it and revert back to the original window.

We loved how it turned out and we're so happy we didn't have to resort to a shade or blinds. This way, we can let the sunlight in all day and look at the glass sparkle when the lights are on at night.

In my next post, I'll show you what we decided to do in the staircase.

For more information about Sheri Law Art Glass, visit her website here to look at examples of her work.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Beautiful and practical, inspirational Dutch doors are everywhere in Carmel-by-the-Sea

I love great doors and I've written about them. There are great entry doors, pocket doors, barn doors and today, I'll discuss other my love, Dutch doors.

Also known as half doors, double-hung doors and stable doors, Dutch doors have been a favorite of mine since I used to help out my mom at church socials and a Dutch door divided the church kitchen from the large meeting room. Even then, I thought that Dutch doors were ingenious the way the bottom half remained closed, while the ladies in the kitchen could pass food to the serving area through the top half. Back in the day, Dutch doors were found mostly as back entry doors; they kept the animals on the farm out of the house and the children in, while letting in plenty of air and sunshine.

Today, Dutch doors are a stylish addition to any home, inside or out. In fact, you you want to see some of the most beautiful exterior Dutch doors anywhere within about a five block area, check out the exquisite California oceanside town of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Here are some beautiful doors I found there on a recent trip.

Below is a more contemporary Dutch door with its clean lines and oversized glass window panes.

This one is my favorite in Carmel-by-the-Sea. I guess that's true because I'm a sucker for a red door.

This one, in a pale shade of robin's egg blue, is more rustic. As you can see, this town doesn't need a lot of air conditioning. Just open up the top half of the door and let the breeze in.

This one has a more nautical feel. It is stained where all the others were painted. It is appropriate for this menswear store. By the way, there are home with Dutch doors in the town, too, but I limited my photo excursion to the public areas.

This door is thoroughly rustic. Notice the window is considerably smaller than any of the others.

Okay, I'm cheating here. This one isn't a Dutch door, but I love this arched entry anyway and I couldn't resist. It is also in the town of Carmel-By-The-Sea.

I was so inspired by these doors that I had to put a Dutch door in my home, too. In my case, I used it inside as a way to separate my mudroom from the kitchen and therefore, contain my dogs in the mudroom until they were thoroughly dry from the rain or the snow. We've been using it for eight months now and it is one of the best design decisions we made.

The dogs like it too because they can see and hear what is going on everywhere else in the house. We even keep them in the mudroom if we don't want them around company and they are very content. To read more about using Dutch doors as an alternative to pet gates or child safety gates, click here.

How about you? What is your opinion of Dutch doors? Do you have one in your home?

Thursday, March 5, 2015

5 creative ideas for using cake plates everywhere except your kitchen

We all know that cakes, muffins, cookies and every other kind of sweetness can look all the more enticing when on a beautiful pedestal cake plate. But hey, cake plates are too beautiful to display only when you have a delectable dessert in the offing. They have dozens of uses outside of the kitchen, too, where they not only look beautiful but are practical as well.

Pedestal cake plates come in all shapes, sizes and colors. I especially like pressed glass cake plates, which are often found in pastel colors as well as clear glass. Pressed glass is also referred to as pattern glass and it has a beautiful texture and design. They started making pressed glass in the early 1800s, so you can find beautiful pieces on eBay and in antique stores. Prices vary depending upon the color and the pattern but generally, you can find them between $20 and $100.

However, I scored a great deal for three cake stands currently at Michael's Arts & Crafts. The largest, which fits a traditional cake sold for $14.99 and the two smaller versions sold for $5.99 and $7.99. I had a 40% off the entire purchase coupon, which made the purchase even sweeter.

Whether you choose to go vintage or new, here are some ideas for how to use your beautiful pedestal cake plate.

Use it as a perfume tray on your dresser. Pedestal cake plates are pretty and feminine. They look perfect on a bedroom dresser or bathroom countertop.

Consider using it on your nightstand or dresser to hold your jewelry. 

Dress up your craft room or office and use it as a desk accessory. Who needs those boring, cookie-cutter desk accessories.

Use it as a soap dish in your bathroom or your guest powder room.

Finally, use it for a centerpiece or flower arrangements.

Do you use pedestal cake plates for something other than cakes? Let us know.