Tuesday, November 29, 2011

An easy slip cover for dining chairs

While preparing for a presentation to the lovely ladies of the Ft. Campbell Officers’ Spouses Club, I was trying to think of some easy, inexpensive decorating ideas, projects or transformations I could share with the group.  I was able to throw together a 20 minute talk which included tips about making the transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas.
One of the ideas I came-up with was for a quick-and-easy dining room chair slipcover.  This project was fairly well received, so I thought I’d share it with you here.
flour sack cover
What you’ll need:
flour sack towels (2 per chair)
acrylic paint
fabric medium
make-up sponges
paper for practice

I got my flour sack towels at Dollar Tree.  They are thinner and none of them is the same size as the next, but I really like the gauze-like thinness of the fabric because they lend a very diaphanous, ethereal look to my slipcovers.
They are perfect for tea staining if you’d like a vintage look.  I stained this towel with green tea bags—it was all I had I the house, besides Lady Grey (and those are reserved for sipping!).  Generally, I would prefer to use the Red Rose brand tea bags—lots of them—because I prefer the color derived from that brand, plus they sometimes offer those darling little Wade Pottery animals in their packages!
tea stained flour sack
Pre-wash and dry the towels. 
Place two of the towels, right sides together, pinning along the two long sides and one short side.  You’ll end-up with a pillowcase like construction.
Turn the slipcover right side out.
I decided to try a practice run of the stencil on some paper.  I wanted to check the scale of the letter, as compared to the bracket stencils.  I think the letter is a little small, but was much easier to use pre-cut stencils than to make my own.  When I make  complete set for our chairs, I’ll likely make my own stencil.
letter stencilbracket stencil
Once you’ve decided on your design, you can get started stenciling on the slipcovers.  First mix your acrylic color with the textile medium according to the instructions on the bottle of medium.  I suggest you insert paper inside the cover, where you plan to stencil, to prevent  it seeping through to the other side.
I used a make-up sponge to apply the paint to the stencil and fabric.  I just pounced the sponge in the paint, then on the slipcover.
Once dry, you are ready to drop the slipcover on the chair. 
cinched flour sack
I love the casual, slouchy look and will definitely use this during the summer, but I also liked adding a little more shape by gathering the fabric on the inside and securing with a safety pin.  This would be the perfect place to add an accent of sprigs of pine or the such.  I also demonstrated the use of tassels at the top corners, again allowing for a more fitted look. 
This is definitely a project you can get done in a couple of hours.
I’m sure I left out some major details in these instructions, but you know where to find me if you have questions.
Let me know if you try this project and how they turn-out.
Thanks, as always, for your indulgence.

I'm trying a few linky parties--take a look for yourself:

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thoughts on Thanksgiving

(My Leaf Chronicle article for Nov 20th)

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. One thing I’ve noticed as I get older, a survey of my peers results in the same opinion. Most of us prefer Thanksgiving over Christmas. Further, most of site the same or similar reasons—less hubbub! Not so much to do to prepare for it—just fix some dinner and invite the family and friends over. It’s almost like any other Sunday for many of us—just more food.

Some of us travel. Well, that’s an understatement, being that it’s the most traveled holiday, but as I am retailer, I gave up even the thought of traveling on Thanksgiving! I don’t have those crazy 3 A.M. sales at Hodgepodge, but it’s a busy weekend anyway, so I can’t imagine being away.

So, for the past nine years, Thanksgiving has been at the King Kompound and that makes me VERY happy. My sister, Kendall, and her family are always part of the day and for that I am grateful. Between the two of us, we whip-up some rather tasty dishes that generally leave us quite satisfied.

Every year we try to think of some new dishes to prepare, but we’re hesitant to give up the tried and true recipes that we all enjoy. So, we usually make them all! This has really become a problem, because we just keep adding to an already large menu. Desserts alone are numbering close to the double digits!

One year I ventured on the wild side and made a dish using baby Brussels sprouts. They were amazing—even my youngest went back for seconds. The problem is I have less-than-no idea where that recipe went. I have tried replicating it—with acclaims and adoration pouring forth from Kendall who happily attests, to those being subjected to my experiments, that the original recipe was truly delicious. It’s very frustrating.

Tonight I will sit down with my cookbooks. I’m going to find a new vegetable recipe—one that doesn’t involve Brussels sprouts, but I do want it to be unusual. I’d also like a different green salad recipe. I’m looking forward to perusing my extensive cookbook collection for something mouthwatering.

I also need to do a little preparation for our table setting. I think I’ve written about the fact that I use a painter’s drop cloth canvas for our tablecloth before, but this year I want to make it fitted. I hope to find the time to cut it apart and create the tablecloth I’ve always intended it to be. If it doesn’t get done for Thanksgiving—it will get done for Christmas—even if I have to pay someone to do it for me!

As I think about my plans for my table setting this year, I decided to look back at pictures from years past (Yes, I take pictures of my table settings—when I remember—they come in handy for blogs and newspaper articles.). I really did like the table last year. I used a primitive three-tiered display, loaded down with gourds, pumpkins and Indian corn, as my centerpiece. As mentioned last week, a length of burlap served as the topper on my drop cloth.

dinner table settings 001dinner table settings 002dinner table settings 015dinner table settings 026dinner table settings 027

I have to say—this was one of my favorite settings. And, true to the nonsense I spew at luncheons and other meetings I’m asked to attend as the speaker, I used the same basic setting for Christmas. I only changed the centerpiece.

(Of course, true to my form of these past few months, I failed to take any pictures of this year’s table.  The place settings were almost identical, but my centerpiece was simple.  I just used my twelve hole sugar mold with my artichoke votives.)

I’d love to hear about some of you Thanksgiving traditions, trials and tribulations.

Thanks for your indulgence,


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Can She Really write MORE about Burlap?!?!

(my Leaf Chronicle article  for a day in novemeber . . .)


As I type this, we are preparing for a fall decorating workshop. Kendall will be teaching how to make a burlap wreath and I will teach how to make a banner echoing the sentiment of the season, “grateful.” The banner also incorporates burlap.

burlap wreath

grateful banner

Have you noticed a theme here? Heck, I think I mention it in most of my articles—burlap. I love it! I use it in a variety of ways, I buy products made out of burlap for the shop and I would probably wear it if it were softer!

“Wear it if it were softer, you say, Paige?”

Well, darn if Patty didn’t bring in some of the softest burlap I’ve ever felt! She told me she had heard that you could wash it in hot water, dry it and it would soften-up like linen. So I gave her a piece we had lying around and she experimented with it.

She washed it in hot water, with detergent and an extra amount of liquid softener. Then she tossed it in the dryer. Viola! A soft, slightly shrunken piece of burlap emerged. She said it did make quite a mess of her washer and dryer (so don’t do this with a load of black socks), but I do believe I’ll be trying this for my table topper this year.

The reasons I love this fabric are many, but the two top reasons are it is cheap and it is neutral in color. It works in every room of my house and has been used accordingly!

So, other than as a topper for my holiday table settings, the other projects I’ve used burlap for are:

“Aprons” for my dining room chairs. I draped a length of burlap across the back of the chair, added a length of ribbon to the bottom edge of the chair, which I use to secure the apron in place. I also added our monogram to the back side.

apron close-up

Curtains. I’ve made full-length curtains in my bedroom, which subsequently went up in flames—reference a blog post for Jan 2010—and haven’t been reproduced. I’ve made café curtains for my dining room. They lay flat—no gathering—so the stiffness of the fabric works very well.return projects 003

(These are the curtains that existed for a brief shining moment in our bedroom—if I do it again, I’ll wash the fabric first.)

dinner table settings 005

(here’s a shot of the full array of burlap used in my dining room—the table runner—as wide as the table—the chair aprons and the café curtains.  The valances are an aqua toile with a taupe print—I added taupe tassels to “gussy them up.”)

Placemats. The easiest project ever! Simply cut out rectangle slightly larger than your desired finished size, then you pull the threads to fringe the ends. Done! This works for a table runner, as well.

So, here’s an idea that you can use for gift giving. Make coaster-sized burlap squares, then tie together a set of six—heck, twelve, they’re cheap—with some ribbon. There you go—a gift for almost anyone. If you want to take it to the next level, you can stencil the monogram of your gift recipient on the coasters.

So, I hope you have enjoyed the many wonders of burlap today!


I’d love to hear how you’ve used burlap in your décor.

Thank you for your indulgence.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Boating Analogy

(This was my article for The Leaf Chronicle a few weeks ago.)

Have you ever felt like you’ve got each of your feet in two different boats and they’re floating away from each other?

That’s the only way I can describe the feeling I get this time of year ever since opening my shop. At the shop, I’ve already decorated for Christmas, but at the house we’re still transitioning from Halloween to Thanksgiving. I fight the push of Christmas—leaving most of my fall décor intact and work in the Christmas trees and snowmen.

My home décor actually benefited from the transition this year, because the really amazing bunch of cornstalks I had outfitted with a burlap wrap, tulle and a rusty ring of skeleton keys is now standing in my entrance hall! What an impact as you walk in the door. It may have to be mine—permanently.cornstalks 2011

( . . . and there it is!  I brought it home and will leave it there as long as I can get away with it!)

So, as promised, we’re moving into the house with our fall decor. Many houses have a nice foyer where you can add another welcoming touch to carry-out your theme, such as a fall floral arrangement on a table. But what if you don’t have a formal foyer? There are many strategies you can use to draw the eye into the home—choose your focal point and that is where you’ll put your decorative emphasis.

For instance, if you walk through your front door and the first thing you see is your staircase, add a fall garland. Nothing expensive, just grab some of that wisteria or jasmine that is going dormant, wrap it in a loose configuration, around the railing. Make a swag of Indian corn tied with raffia and you’re done. If you want a little more color run several yards of (again—loosely configured) wide ribbon through the railing and vines. Depending on your color selections and with a few changes, this arrangement can easily become you Christmas décor, too.

A fall mantel looks great with some basic changes to your usual décor. I usually switch-out the brightly colored tea cups and saucers I have displayed on a stand for my brown transferware. I add other details, such as amber bottles and I change my vintage book “risers” to reflect the colors of the season. I switch my glass candle sticks for my brass ones and the color of the candles generally changes, as well.

tea cups stand

A quick arrangement for the dining room table is always something folks are asking about when planning to entertain. The simplest arrangements can be made with large pumpkin (I prefer the Princess or Cinderella variety) set atop a cake stand. Under the pumpkin you can place a layer of leaves fanning out around the edge or I would choose a crocheted doily, slightly larger than the cake stand so it can drape over the edge. Sprinkle nuts—still in their shell—around the base of the stand and intersperse glass votives around the table, too. You can also mix in gourds, pomegranates and pinecones of acorns for a “full” look. Remember to use unscented candles on your table, but feel free to light-up the scents of fall throughout the rest of the house.

buffet lamps

(this is pre-plush pumpkins)

more fall 2011 010

(many of the same elements—post-plush pumpkins!)

As I said, I’m not ready to rush the season, I still have a lot left to do!

(I have so many intended blog posts—I hope I can get to at least half of them!)

As always, I thank you for your indulgence!


Saturday, November 12, 2011

fall front door decor

(my article for The Leaf Chronicle—written for Oct 30th—actually, written for the 23rd, but not run until the 30th.)

Well, apparently resubmitting your column for a second run, a mere four weeks after its original publication is frowned upon at this newspaper. Go figure!

Yes, my editor contacted me—unfortunately, after I had walked away from the computer for the evening—to let me know that the article I submitted was run back on Sep 11th. It was a crazy time in my life and frankly I’ve pretty much lost an approximate two week period around the middle of September. I thought I had started but never submitted it, so I just updated it, sent it to Stacy and left for the day! Oops!

I’m not sure if this is going to get done in time to run on Oct 23rd, or if it will run the 30th, so I need to come-up with something quick and timeless. Considering the season, I think I’ll share a few fall decorating tips.

When we think about changing our décor for the seasons, our thoughts often go to our front entrance first. Many of us like to hang a wreath representative of the season, which is a great start. Seasonal wreaths can be purchased at a variety of locations, as can the supplies to make your own. Whether purchased or homemade, wreaths are often the harbinger of the new season for most home decorators.

porch wreath

Additional options for the entrance include pumpkins, mums and cornstalks. While I love a large, traditional pumpkin for carving jack-o-lanterns, I prefer the heirloom pumpkins, such a Cinderella and Lumina (white) varieties. The Cinderella variety is especially perfect for stacking. I like the stacked- look atop a large urn or planter, but is works just as well on the ground; for a little more flare, you can add a twist of vine around the stack.

stack pumpkins

If you have a porch with columns, tying a bunch of cornstalks to the columns is an easy adornment. After you get it secured to the column or other support, you can embellish it with ribbons and other decorations. This year, I first wrapped a large piece of burlap around the stalks, then several piece of tulle knotted at the front with the final touch of a ring of rusty skeleton keys, tied on with jute. If you’re stalks are short on corn cobs, you can tie a bunch of Indian corn at the front, too.

porch column

A collection of mums in a variety of pots, mixed with the pumpkin and lanterns or large mason jars are the perfect vignette for the entrance of any home. If you’ve got steps, scatter the assembly along one side. No stairs to you porch? Introduce a variety of heights by perching the pumpkins and lanterns on stands, inverted flower pots or hay bales. I would recommend leaving a few of your pumpkins un-carved—or “restock” your display after the jack-o-lanterns start to collapse—to carry your décor through Thanksgiving.

pumpkin porch

Well, I was going to share more, but didn’t even get past the front door! Next week, I’ll move the fall décor inside.

Thanks, as  always, for your indulgence!


Not the front door, but I love this . . .

pumpkin chair

Sunday, November 6, 2011

One for the boys . . .

my article for the leaf chronicle on oct 16th

This is going to be a tough one to write. I had a request from a friend for a “man article.” I quickly rebutted that I thought he would look great in pink (if you read last week’s column—you’ll get that joke), but I don’t think he was satisfied.

So, all week, I’ve been thinking about a home décor column for men, but mainly for men who don’t care about decorating. Which I always find rather confounding—if most of you “don’t care,” why do most of the women in my shop say, “Oh, my husband won’t like that.”

Therefore, instead of decorating advice for men in general, I think I’ll give some advice to the “don’t care” men, because they’re usually married to women—like me—who do care.

1. How our houses look does matter; it matters to us. We matter to you, ergo . . .

husband wife house

photo source

2. If it really, truly doesn’t matter to you and you express that opinion more than once, you resign all rights of refusal when we bedeck our beds in floral prints and eyelet accessories. It’s one room in the house; we know you want peace, if nowhere else, in this room. Allow us this one.


photo from Taylor Linens

3. It’s just paint. We can paint over it (and you know we will) in the future (probably next month). If we want to experiment with some color—remember it can be changed.

4. Recliners are not the only comfortable chairs in the world. Let me introduce you to the concept of a nice big chair and an ottoman.


photo source

5. It is okay to have a piece of painted furniture. Yes—real wood is nice, but not everything in the house has to be the natural, exposed grain of real wood.

6. While we may balk at your choice of golfing attire—it is alright to mix patterns in a large room—even a small room, when done with skill. Don’t freak-out when we show you a plaid and a floral pattern on the same sofa; it works, that’s what the designers get paid for doing.

mixed pattern sofa

photo source

7. All art work does not have to portray a battle scene of significance in your life or any other. Save it for the man cave. That goes for the dogs playing poker, too—it’s funny, but not in the living room.

dogs playing poker

photo source

8. We will watch football with you—some of us even enjoy it—but your favorite team’s colors do not have to be the theme for our family room.

9. No. Blankets are not suitable dressing for our windows. We can easily alter sheets and make them into wonderful curtains which can be opened and closed—unlike your big fuzzy blanket with the face of the lion—the one you had in college . . . yeah . . . you.

10. If you could feign a little interest, you’d probably come to realize we’re doing it for your comfort, as well as our own—maybe even more so for you. We do want you to love to come home and we want you to be proud when friends and family come to visit.

Thanks to my exercise buddy at the Y for requesting this special article. I’m pretty sure this is not what he had in mind, but it sure was easier to write that I thought it would be in paragraph two!

As always, I’m running behind!  We’ve been transforming the shop for Christmas, so my blog has been neglected.  I’ll catch-up over the next few days and try a new approach.

Thanks for your indulgence!


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