Month: March 2014

Creating a Layered Living Room Mantel

This was one of those crazy weekends where we did a lot of little chores but it doesn’t feel like we really accomplished anything!  I did spend a few minutes playing with my living room mantel, though, and thought I’d share with you an update as to how it’s coming along.  Last week, I did a post about Decorating with Touches of Gold.  The use of gold metallics was on my mind because I am using gold on my living room mantel.



I’ve layered three gold frames together, the largest being a frame that I found at the antique faire that I turned into a chalkboard.  Here’s what it looked like as I was loading it into my car!



As you can see, I left the frame alone but replaced the matting and painting with a chalkboard that I made.



I also updated the look of my wedding frame so that it better complemented the frame of the chalkboard.  It originally had a very bright gold frame that didn’t contain any detail.



A little stain and a few wood accents from Home Depot and it now looks like this.



I also found the cutest antique oval frame at a local store and I love how it looks added to the mix, especially with the contrast of the boxwood wreath that hangs from it.



On the right side of the mantel, I’ve added some books, some more boxwood, a vase, and one of my favorite trophies.



It’s the patina that makes me love this beauty so much!



I’m sure I’m going to change this mantel a bit in the coming days, but for now, I like how the layers and textures are coming together.  Granted, it looks like of lot of gold just from these photos, but it will be balanced out and offset by the rest of the room.  {Once the rest of the room is done, that is!}  :)



And for those of you that didn’t see my Facebook post from yesterday, my two chairs were delivered last week!  Here’s a sneak peek! Chair-Sneak-Peek



Have a wonderful week!

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The Simple Formula for a Beautiful Container Garden

Last weekend as I was browsing the gardening section of Home Depot, I noticed their beautiful flowering containers that we available for purchase.  They always look so beautiful, don’t they?

Beautiful flower pot framing house entrance

Well, many moons ago when I was in high school, I worked at a family run nursery in my hometown for a couple of summers.  What a fantastic job spent outdoors surrounded by plants!  Naturally, my favorite task was to unpack all of the decor and gift items that the store also sold, but the other task that I loved was putting together and potting up the gorgeous flowering pots to be displayed and sold at the front of the store.  I would sometimes spend an entire day planting pot after pot!

Now, to be fair, the flowering pots sold at nurseries look beautiful because:

  1. The plants included just came from the grower and are all blooming and pest-free.  They are beautiful and ready to go!
  2. The baby plants are crowded into the pot so that it creates an abundance of blooms and looks very lush.



When creating your own container garden at home, you might have to wait a bit for the plants to bloom and you might not plant yours as close together to save money, but there is still one simple formula that you can follow to create an amazing container garden.  Basically, it is a THREE LAYER formula that goes as follows:



{Container garden image via Green Connection}



This is also sometimes referred to as “Thrill” because an eye-catching or showy plant works well as the focal point, but the key is that this plant needs to have height and be taller than all other plants, so I refer to this layer as Height.  If your container is round, this plant would go in the center.  If your container is flat or will be placed against a wall, this plant can be the back layer.  Also, this is typically just ONE, upright plant unless you do a small grouping (maybe 3) of annuals that are tall, like salvia, for example.  I don’t have a lot of small, colorful containers but rather larger ones on my porch.  For larger containers, my personal preference is to use a perennial for the height layer so that you can grow it year-round.  But I do like to keep the height at a manageable level so that it doesn’t grow too tall and become disconnected from the other layers.

Examples of plants that work well for this layer include ornamental grasses, lavender, salvia.

{Clockwise top left 1. Red Hot Sally Salvia 2. Lavender 3. Purple Fountain Grass 4. Caladium}
{Clockwise top left 1. Red Hot Sally Salvia 2. Lavender 3. Purple Fountain Grass 4. Caladium}



This is the middle layer of your container garden and is just what it sounds like – plants that will fill in the space around the Height.  These plants should stay shorter than the Height plant and this is a good place to add some annual color.

Examples of Fill plants include petunias, impatiens, begonias, pansies, even some geraniums.

{Clockwise from top left 1. Pansies 2. Petunias 3. Begonias 4. Impatiens}
{Clockwise top left 1. Pansies 2. Petunias 3. Begonias 4. Impatiens}



These are shorter trailing plants that are planted toward the outer edges to that they will spill over the sides of the container.  They could be flowering plants that complement the Fill layer, or they could be non-flowering with a focus on the foliage.  There are some Spill plants that are actually more like Thrill in terms of their interesting foliage!

Some of my favorite Spill plants are ivy, calibrachoa, bacopa, and lobelia.

{Clockwise top left 1. Superbells 2. Bacopa 3. Lobelia 4. Variegated Ivy}
{Clockwise top left 1. Calibrachoa 2. Bacopa 3. Lobelia 4. Variegated Ivy}



I just planted the pots on my porch last weekend, so they don’t look like much just yet.  But given time and TLC they will be soon be flowering and spilling over!  They are a combination of green, white, purple and yellow because I love the juxtaposition of warm and cool colors.  I used a gardenia for the Height because the scent reminds me of my grandpa.  The Fill is nemesia and pansies and the Spill is calibrachoa, although I want to add one more Spill plant to the mix.  I was trying to keep the cost down and so I didn’t pack my plants in the way I’d really like.  Patience is not my strong suit but in this case, I’m just going to have to wait for everything to fill in!



Additional Tips & Tidbits

  • Know what type of sun exposure your container will get and pick your plants accordingly.  Be sure that they also have similar watering needs.
  • If you want your container garden to be showy year-round, choose a combination of plants that bloom at different times of the year
  • Know what plants are appropriate for your Zone (area).  For the most part, nurseries and garden centers carry plants that are appropriate for your area, but if you travel to another area and want to purchase a plant, be sure that it will survive in your home climate before buying!
  • Ensure that your pot has adequate drainage and that the soil isn’t too compacted.  You might need to add more drain holes to larger pots.
  • Some trailing plants will need to be pruned or pinched back so that they don’t get too woody or leggy near the base.
  • Use a good potting soil to give your plants a good start for growing.
  • When you remove plants from their plastic pots, lightly loosen the bottom roots and sides of the root ball so that they are ready for planting.  Be gentle, though, as you don’t want to shock them!
  • Use at least one “Thrill” plant in your container, even if it’s not the Height plant.
  • Larger sized plants tend to be heartier than the small six-packs, so if possible, use larger plants.  Doing so will also help your container look more established.
  • If possible, plant your plants right next to each other so that the container looks full and like the plants have been growing together for years.  Granted, budget considerations might make this impossible so there are times when you’ll just have to be patient and wait for the plants to grow, like I am doing with mine.  :)



What are some of your container gardening plants?
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Decorating with Touches of Gold

Decorating with gold finishes is often times perceived as being fussy or formal.  Trust me when I tell you that my home is anything but formal.  With two kids who ride scooters through the house, eat snacks on the sofa {honestly, how do the Goldfish crackers get underneath the cushions?!} and a plethora of pets, we are very casual, but even so, I still like to use gold metallics here and there throughout my home to add elegance and dimension.

Gold French Side Tables
{via Hugh Jefferson Randall Architects}
Electic Gallery Wall
{via Tumblr}


Here are five tips for decorating with gold.  Note that  the tips below refer specifically to gold metallics, not gold-colored items.



1. Think of Gold as a Neutral

While gold finishes technically have a yellow appearance to them, they act as neutrals that blend in with their surroundings.

Gold  Mirror Living Room
{via House Beautiful}
Warm Toned Mixed Metals
{via Tempodadelicadeza}


2. Use Gold to Brighten

Because of its color and reflective surface, gold metallics can be used to brighten an otherwise dark corner or even to create a subtle “pop” in a room.

Gold Painted Sofa
{The gold frame adds an unexpected pop to this piece!  Image via Design House of the Hamptons}
Gold Ottomans
{Tufted metallic gold ottomans work well on this colorful rug.  Image via Andrea Brooks Interiors}


3. Dress it Up or Dress it Down

Just like a great pair of black jeans, gold finishes can make a room look formal if they are paired with other formal pieces and finishes.

{via Tumblr}
{via Tumblr}
Eclectic Living Room
{via Lonny}


Conversely, using aged gold or pairing it with casual elements gives it a more casual look.

{via Miss Mustard Seed}
{via Miss Mustard Seed}
Casual Living Room
{via KML Design}



4. Mix it Up!

Using a gold metallic in a room doesn’t limit you as to what finishes you can use.  In fact, for a collected look you want to mix and match!  For a subtle mixture, try mixing warm metallics like gold and bronze.  For something a bit more contemporary, mix warm and cool, like gold and nickel.


Pop of Gold
{via Tumblr}
Gold Pendants
{via Houzz}


5. Make it Bold or Make it Subtle

Depending on the amount of gold finish you use in a room, the look can vary from bold to barely there!

Gold Metallic Bedroom
{via Tobi Fairley Interior Design}
Subtle Gold Living Room
{via Country Living}


Additional Tips & Tidbits

  • If you use an item with a gold finish, be sure to use gold somewhere else in the room to create a cohesive look.
  • Used with other shiny finishes, including glass or hi-gloss items, gold looks more formal.  Paired with rough or dull textures, it looks more casual.
  • A little goes a long way!  Unless you are trying to create a formal or glamorous room, limit yourself to just a few gold items in one room.
  • You can always tone down the brightness of a gold item with a bit of stain, giving it a more aged look.


No matter how much or how little you use, gold has an elegant and timeless look to it, but you can tone down the formality depending on what you use with it in a room.


Will you be joining the gold rush?
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