Thursday, December 18, 2014

Catching up with Christmas

 Our Holiday store hours are listed above.
All I want for Christmas is more time!
Do you feel that way?  I am so far behind with
our own Christmas tree and shopping. Its going to be
a much simpler affair this year.  No big dinner, as we won't have 
half of our kids with us this year, and my sister and her hubby 
switch off to go to his side of the family.  Many families
have to share people, and this is one of those years where we
don't get to have everybody.  Even so, I guess its for the best
as I am not prepared at home anyway.  But I have been plugging 
away in the early morning hours, and so it does finally feel 
like Christmas!  We picked out our tree and its a fat chubby
Balsam.  But it took us almost a week to put lights on it...
and then another four days to do anything else.
So that is when I decided the tree would be very simple.
White lights, snowflakes and some sequin swirling strands that my
store manager, Gina gave me after I admired them in a door swag at her home.
Well I think they saved the day this morning!  They make the tree shimmer and
add a festive note.  There are about 5 blue vintage glass ornaments and thats it!
Simple and done.  I think its the way to go~so all those boxes I lugged down from
the attic crawl space can go right back up there.  Perhaps this is the new way
for us.   Have you paired down too?  Its a busy busy world and if you don't
have a staff running your home, I guess stuff doesn't get done!
So that is why I want Santa to bring me more time....
On with the merry merry! I will hopefully get some time to take some
photos and share them here before the holiday is over.
We had a busy day at the shop yesterday, as people are tying up their shopping.
More than a few husbands are running in and putting together Chalk Paint 
gift baskets and books and gift certificates for their wives, which is
really cute to see.  Thoughtfulness at this time of year, so nice.
Hope you have all your ducks in a row so you can enjoy 
these last few days.  Hubby and I watched the Michael Buble Christmas
Special and when he sang with Barbra Streisand it was such a treat.
Christmas music always puts me in the mood!  So turn on your 
tunes and mix up some hot cocoa or pour a glass of wine.  
Make sure the candles in the window are on.  This is what I love to 
do and think of past Christmases and special times.  
We have a fun idea of creating a new Christmas memory this
year with our spartan crew....and if we pull it off, I will tell you
all about it!


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Faux Cobblestone Wall

Create a feature wall with a simple technique using sponges and 
Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint.  My son Colin did this wall in his bedroom
in several hours.  We did a makeover on his room awhile back
but I never finished sharing it until now.  I always thought the wall
behind the bed needed a little oomph. 
What do you think?  Take a look below at the plain wall.
This is how the room looked before Colin did the stone wall treatment.
My ideas ranged from painting chevron or stripes or even just a darker color.
Then one day I mentioned, how about doing a stone wall like the one we
painted together in my shop. 
Look familiar?  Its the floor at Maison Decor.
That did it! He loved the idea and was quick to get the project underway.
He did it while I was at work one Saturday and I think it came out fantastic!
 He started at the ceiling and used large sponges and rolled the paint onto
the sponge and then stamped the wall.  He prepped the wall with a basic
flat wall paint from Valspar, called Knight's Armour.  Any dark charcoal or
black paint will do, just have it be matte finish.
Stamping the blocks in rows until he got to the bottom
he would quickly finish the wall. He used Paris Grey Chalk Paint for
the blocks and a little bit of Graphite for depth hand brushed over
the blocks of Paris Grey.
 Lamps with burlap shades from HomeGoods look great on the 
bedside tables, also painted in Graphite, leaving the tops natural.
 This is a tutorial on how we did the floor if you are interested.
Part of the group of accessories we selected from our
local HomeGoods included this very cool driftwood mirror.
We also got the Lane wood base lamps with burlap shades
and a bunch of pillows in shades of brown and black.
 Pillows and a black driftwood mirror from HomeGoods complete
the look.  We like to mix in old with the new to get a room
that has individual flair and style.  So mix it up with vintage finds,
like trunks and taxidermy and then throw on some brand new plaid 
flannel sheets from HomeGoods to create a great looking room,
with masculine appeal.  He loves it, and so do I.

Note: this post is partially sponsored by HomeGoods as part of my participation in their 
Pinterest program called Happy By Design.  To see tips from other HomeGoods Designers
visit our board!  It is pretty fabulous!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Pink Polka Dotted Washer and Dryer

 You can't run out to Sears and buy this set...but you can create it 
if you wanted to update your own old washer and dryer.  Its easy with 
Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan.  One of our favorite Maison Decor customers
paints furniture for a living.  Like many of our customers, Melissa is a mom
who has discovered how easy and reliable Chalk Paint is to use on furniture
makeovers.  She has built a nice business for herself painting furniture
and selling it from her home.  She and her hubby and four kids recently moved
into a new house and Melissa was doing a makeover on her laundry room.
She found her inspiration in a polka dotted pig wall decoration from HomeGoods.
From there the room got a chandelier, an ironing board shelf,
and a hot pink color palette.
 Here it is in the beginning of the makeover, the pink polka dotted
suitcase and shelf looked really cute with the pig on the wall....
but what could she do about her washer and dryer?  I saw this photo
posted on her Facebook Page, Melissa's Perfect Piece.  She said she wished
she could run out and buy a pair of shiny stainless steel front loaders.
I suggested she paint them pink with polka dots too.  And knowing her
like I do, I was thinking she probably would consider doing just that.
 And so, the washer dryers in hot pink with white polka dots were a reality!
Melissa mixed up Emperor's Silk (red) and Old White Chalk Paint to get
 a bubblegum pink color.  She finished off the job with a polka dot stencil.
Now its the cutest laundry room in Massachusetts!
 Her youngest, Madeline, gave her mom her approval on a job well done! 
Isn't it just the most whimsical thing you could imagine doing 
to your appliances?  Chalk Paint sticks to 
metal and so painting your appliances is always an option.
  Let it cure to get nice and hard and consider sealing it with
 a polycrylic or clear finish top coat product so it can be almost bullet proof.
Don't use Annie Sloan's soft wax to seal these, as the heat from the dryer 
would soften the wax so it couldn't cure.  If you need to touch them up,
 its easy enough to do so.  I would keep a custom paint color mix inside 
a baby food jar, or other small airtight container, 
just in case you need to retouch little marks.    
 You might remember that I recently got some new French Provincial chairs 
for my dining room.  I saw this photo posted on Melissa's Facebook page.  
That day they became mine! It was the day before Thanksgiving 
and I wanted some new chairs.  
Here they are, straight from a small business mom, Melissa, 
who does all this from her home while being a mom to four kids! Phew! 
And I thought having a shop was kind of hard work.  
Hope you enjoyed this post on just another amazing thing that 
Chalk Paint can do.  It really is that good, that amazing,
 and that reliable. Find out why everyone is going crazy 
over Annie's paint, and create some magic of your own!
If you don't think you are brave enough to paint a washer or dryer, 
rethink painting things, like this basic side table. Done in Old White 
Chalk Paint, we finished them using a stencil for the top in a houndstooth
check and then handpainted stripes on the front drawer.  
Makes for an interesting Menswear look, don't you think?
To visit Melissa on Facebook, click here and be sure to LIKE her page!
It means a lot to someone trying to run their own business.
Tell her I sent you! And Happy Holidays from both of us!
To purchase the Houndstooth stencil click here
Let us know in the comment section if you think we should carry
the polka dot stencil in our shop, both online and in Reading,
and we will do just that.
One last thing...
we lowered our in store Chalk Paint prices to
the lowest minimum pricing allowed: $34.95. 
So visit Maison Decor when you are shopping for
Annie Sloan's wonderful paint and when you do, we include
 our Maison Decor Tip Sheet on the how-tos of using her paint.
Chalk Paint sold here 


Monday, December 8, 2014

Holiday Workshop at Matthew Mead's studio

 Me and Matthew 
Usually I am the one giving the workshops, but this rainy day in December
I was headed up to New Hampshire to take a holiday creative workshop
taught by this style guru~Matthew Mead!  He is a legend in these parts
and has a pedigree that includes author of books and mags, editing magazines
like Country Home, stylist to the big retailers like Pottery Barn to name a few
including most recently the cover stylist and photographer for this month's
issue of Better Homes and Gardens.  So this guy is somebody to pay attention
to!  And he was offering private workshops in his own studio, so I jumped
at the chance to attend.  Along with my Maison Decor design assistant, Gina, 
and one of our regular shoppers, Kaydee, we headed up for his Saturday
workshop in Gina's car.
 It was dank and drizzling down in Reading, 
and we were filled with anticipation for what was to come.
 By the time we crossed over into New Hampshire there was 
a light frosting on snow on the ground, perfect for a holiday workshop. 
 A morning email from Matthew's wife and assistant, Jenny,
 said that they were preparing for our arrival by cooking up some
 savory snacks and deserts while Christmas carols played to set the mood.  
 We were greeted by Matthew as we stepped inside his studio, which was a big
white room, with large windows.  It was in an older brick building and it had a lot
of New England character.  Anyone who knows me, knows that I love old buildings and
homes.  The room was already bustling with the other ladies that had arrived to take
the workshop, with a total of ten expected for the four hour event. 
 Long tables covered with craft paper had bundles of different kinds
 of fresh greenery.  There were buckets and containers that had a 
variety of faux greens, flowers and fruits.  Glue guns were plugged
 in and at the ready!  There were three things to choose from to 
create:  a wreath, a diorama like the one seen on the 
cover of BHG this month or a centerpiece.
Some of the fruit was real, some was faux, and it was impossible to tell
the difference.  Matthew's materials were chosen carefully, and it was fun
to start thinking of what I might use.  I would be making a wreath 
for my kitchen window, Gina was making a centerpiece and Kaydee was 
making a wreath as well.  While we waited for some other students to
arrive I couldn't help but notice the little holiday pop up shop Matthew
and Jenny had set up for us.  We could purchase any of the items that day
to take home....and what did my little eye spy right away...?!
 I spotted my favorite purple transferware!  
It seemed like he had more than a few pieces!
 I moved swiftly about the little pop up shop and
 selected two purple pieces that I couldn't resist.  
 That shallow bowl/platter on the edge of the table would be mine!!
 And so would this pretty purple platter on the staircase.  
I don't believe the jadite was for sale, as he had his own
 collections mixed about in the studio.  This is the same place where 
he takes all his production shots for catalogues
and magazines and he uses many of his own props.  
The piles of magazines and books
were there for us to each choose whatever issue or book
 we wanted as a take home gift 
after the workshop, which was icing on the cake!
 And soon the workshop started.  Jenny handed out hot cider 
and cold drinks and we all got our basics.  Kaydee and I were given
 boxwood wreath forms.  They were very nice 
quality made from pvc on a twig base.  
Gina selected a container to build her centerpiece.
 We all gathered around the table and thats when things began.
 Matthew would give us basic instructions on where to start
 and what to do, and then let us create.
 Here he is giving his opening talk about his background
 as we sat at the worktables with our containers and forms in front of us. 
 Matthew demonstrated on a pine wreath form. He likes to start by adding bits 
of moss into the wreath as a "place to start".  I really have never had instruction
on doing things like this, I always wing it! So I listened up good, and took his advice.
I gathered some of the elements for my wreath and started playing around with
the compostion.  Next would be cutting the floral stems apart and glueing them
onto the wreath. I made five blobs around my boxwood form with the moss
and then built onto them with apples and lambs ears and other things.
 In the mean time Jenny was back and forth from the
 back of the studio where they have a kitchen.
She was busy setting up a chocolate cookie station where we 
would be making some delicious cookie with melted chocolate and
 peppermint and nonpareils to take home. This workshop
was like a lifestyle event, which included special recipes
 they served up while we worked on our creations. 
 The cookie table was taking shape while we all began our creations.
 We would be invited to come over and try our hand at cookie decorating 
in the middle of our workshop. 
We were all cutting and glueing and tucking and snipping...
and being served delicious treats one after the other!
I was busy making headway with my apple wreath while Gina worked on 
a holiday table centerpiece and Kaydee created her woodland style wreath.
 We were busy as little bees.  Jenny was headed back
 into the kitchen after serving us all chicken soup that 
Matthew had made from some special recipe he likes.  
I was almost done! Haha! Matthew came over and I think he was 
surprised I was moving so quickly.  
He said something like, "oh wow, you are all set"
But as my mom knows this about me,
I kind of do everything pretty fast.  Some people linger and luxuriate,
but not me....I wish for myself that I could slow down sometimes.
 Gina's centerpiece had a charming addition 
of a sparkly fluffy little bird tucked into
the design.  She had greens and hydrangeas
 and lemon leaves in her arrangement.
I was ready to hang mine up on the old wooden door
 in the studio to see if I needed to tweak it. 
I was happy with it! 
Then I snuck in a little gabbing time with Matthew while he
was not was our first time meeting him and I wished
I could have grabbed him and pulled him into a closet!  But he
was the man of the hour and was dashing around the studio helping
everyone fulfill their dreamy holiday creations.  He is a laid back
guy and so is his wife Jenny.  Very easy to be with, and he has
this cute thing he does where he ends sentences in a little chuckle.
I found him very endearing.
Women at the other table were busy making the dioramas that he made
famous when Better Homes decided to use it as their December cover!
Glass airplant globes turned into woodland scenes with miniatures
all set on a snowy base~so enchanting!
Kaydee checked out her wreath when she had it finished
by hanging it up on the studio's front door.
What was fun was watching how differently everyone created
using the same materials.  Isn't that the best thing about finding
your creative self expression~going with what inspires you?
And then getting something amazing at the end of the experience!
Before too long Jenny was back with a tray of gingerbread trifle!
 OMG was this delicious!
After we gobbled up our deserts it was time to shop and select
one of Matthew's publications as a parting gift.  He autographed
our books and I spent all day yesterday reading mine!! So inspired,
it was a holiday book filled with tons of ideas.
I peeked around his kitchen and saw cupboards filled with his collections.
It was so interesting to be invited into his studio.  What fun I was having!
But the day was coming to an end, and we gathered our things and headed back
 We left Concord New Hampshire filled with the Christmas spirit!
 The next day I hung up my wreath in my kitchen and 
I have to say it is more than I hoped for.
 The purple platter was hung over my stove...
And the large bowl filled with my vintage ornaments...
I was very pleased by the entire experience and now I had
some mementos to remember it all.
Gina sent me this photo of her centerpiece, sans the little
birdy.  Apparently her little girl found the birdy irresistible!
A big thank you to Matthew and Jenny for hosting this
lifestyle workshop event! All us ladies were chirping away happily
on the drive home. We had such an uplifting time.
What is it about the need and desire to create?
I don't know, but it brought us all to New Hampshire that
day and we left feeling very fulfilled.
 It was such a pleasure, I know I will be signing up again for 
the Valentines and spring workshops! 
To go to Matthew's website click here.

for some fun decorating ideas head over to Nita's!
Linking to  Mod Mix Monday
at Nita's Mod Vintage Life

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