Posts Tagged ‘dining rooms’

I’ve had a vague hankering for a plate rack filled with creamy white platters for a while. But it wasn’t until I stumbled over this photo of a simple plate rack that it finally crystallized into a full-blown D-I-M project (you know: “do-it-myself”) – I knew I could accomplish this pretty handily.  Well, maybe with a little help from Mr. Official…

Google image = inspiration

I roughed out a sketch and drew up a materials list for a rack 36 inches wide and 48 inches tall (that allows 16 inches for each shelf – something to keep in mind when you’re considering loading it up with platters, most of which are 12 inches and up these days), then gathered the materials. Here’s my shopping list, in case you’re suddenly struck by the same longing:

Materials for 36×48 plate rack:
3 each 1x4x6 pine boards for the shelves, cut in half
1 each 1x4x8 pine board for the sides, cut in half
1 each 1x6x6 pine board for the top and bottom, cut in half
3 each 3-foot dowels (I used a squared-off screening or lattice wood instead)
36 wood screws (I used #6 x 1 1/4-inch)
1 small can of stain (I chose dark walnut)
1 can of water-based polyurethane (alternatively, you could paint it)
1 pair of heavy-duty picture hangers (capable of holding at least 50 pounds)

So I had the supplies, the creative spark, and the mental image of the finished piece. But right about then, the annual holiday tsunami hit, and my project stayed high and dry in the garage, until just a few days ago.

The tools needed are your standard fare: router, a saw to cut the boards in half, and a drill to make pilot holes and screw in the screws. Once I (ahem, we) got started, it really was a very easy project.

1. Route grooves down the middle of one of the 1x4x6 boards and the same distance from one edge of the 1x6x6.
2. Cut all the boards in half.
3. Make sure everything was either 3 feet or 4 feet long.
4. Lay it out and assemble.
5. Sand, stain, seal.
6. Wait for everything to dry.  Tap, tap, tap.
6. Add hangers and hang.
7. Acquire platters to fill it up; the most time-consuming and expensive part!

The total investment was about $50 in cash and around 4 or 5 hours of actual effort.  There was most definitely a good cost-benefit ratio. Here’s the rack before staining, and the finished rack, hung fairly level, all by myself (to my husband’s barely concealed astonishment.)

Here’s the dining room, ready for some Sunday dinners, all decked out in winter white and silver:

And the Edwardian hutch. The Christmas village is gone, but in its place is a mix of traditional and contemporary white pieces including an elephant for luck.

Happy project-ing!

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Yesterday, a day of rest?  Well, yes and no.

No lunch out and no shopping.  So I gave our local merchants a break.

But rest for our family?  Hardly.

It all started Friday night.  Mr. Official and Swimmer Girl were each at different football games. Big dog and I were home alone and a little bored.  So I washed, dried and spraypainted eight old chargers, taking them from 1990s gold leaf:

to a “hammererd” pewter finish:

That was quick and easy – a can of Krylon Fusion spray paint was all it took.

Then on Saturday, I stenciled a monogram on them – a set of the entire alphabet in 3-inch stencils was available at Hobby Lobby for about $5, which was way cheaper and – just as importantly – faster than ordering a larger letters.   In retrospect, I maybe coulda/shoulda/woulda done a more elaborate background design, but I think I like the elegant simplicity of just the single monogram.  Plus there’s a little more saving grace if I’m not precisely centered, although I did make a concerted stab at measuring and marking the center of each plate:

 After mentally weighing the paint options, I went with a blue that is somewhere between wedgewood blue and turquoise, playing off the colors in the dining room and my china. As expected, the stencil’s edges were a little rough, so after lunch yesterday, I carefully re-outlined them in the same color.  

The only thing left to do now is spray them with sealer so I can rinse or handwash them as needed.  Unless I decide to crackle them or outline them, or something else.

These were so easy to do, I don’t know why I didn’t think to do this a long time ago.   And if you don’t yet have chargers, check places like Old Time Pottery, Hobby Lobby and Target. They have them in old and silver, plus glossy white, black and lacquered reds – whatever fits your style.  And as you can see, a few squirts of acrylic paint is all it takes to personalize them.

As soon as the monogram touchups were done, swimmer girl and I did a little domestic work (she, vacuuming; I, laundry folding), then dashed out the door to a baby shower for a dear friend.   That’s what happens when you overschedule yourself on your day of rest.  Rest does not enter the picture.

We wrapped up the day with an early Thanksgiving dinner with our church family.  All in all, it was a very full, good good day of rest, but definitely not restful.

Happy Monday,

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It all started with a Pier 1 fall catalog that arrived in the mail a few days ago.  I should have known better than to open it (sometimes I do toss ’em sight unseen.)

They might as well dangle a pork chop in front of a starving dog (I would be the starving dog in the metaphor.)  I think I may have actually drooled on one of the pages.  Companies like Homer Laughlin, Crate & Barrel, World Market and Pier 1 know where my weak spot is:  brightly colored pottery and dishes.   Of every shape, size, texture and color imaginable.  I would need (yes, N.E.E.D!!!!) a dish pantry if I bought all the dishes I have seen and intensely coveted.  

But this time I stiffened my resolve and flipped past the dishes to find…this.

Peacock blue, arrayed so artistically I practically swooned.

Well, okay, it wasn’t really a swoon.  More like a squeaky little squeal of delight.

Because I had been mentally struggling to see my blue drapes and cocoa brown walls of my dining room mixing it up with traditional fall colors – it just wasn’t happening, at least in my mind’s eye.

But this.

This was the answer to all those niggling questions and pesky doubts.

It was a sign. I could practically hear Handel’s Messiah (you know, the “Hallelujah Chorus?”) playing.

I showed great restraint and waited a whole week before I allowed myself to even start down this path. My heart was still going pitter-pat when I hit the circuit:  Stein Mart, Hobby Lobby, Old Time Pottery, revisit to Hobby Lobby.  By the time I got to Pier 1, I was steady and steeled…until I found out they no longer had the owl-shaped pumpkin I had my heart set on – he’s in this photo to the right  Isn’t he cute?

I’m still on the prowl for the owl, so if you spot one at your Pier 1, give me a hooty-hoot, please?

I can count on both hands (with some fingers left over) the items that transformed the dining room from its cool-as-a-cucumber summer look here:

view from the foyer
to this new look, just in time for fall:
Same doorway view.  And yes, those are new seat cushions.  Thanks for noticing!

In terms of cash outlay, it was a modest transformation:

1. Three glass candle holders on the table ($3.50 each – they were half-off at Hobby Lobby)
2. Two ceramic pumpkins (one white, one blue, also half-price from HobLob – $30 total)
3. Two peacock blue candles (on clearance for $3.50 each from Pier 1)
4. A new wood tray on the buffet (under $10 at Old Time Pottery)
5. A glass vase (well, two – the first one cracked, but Hobby Lobby graciously replaced it – $15)
6. A handful of foliage and peacock stems for about $12, also half-off at Hobby Lobby) and
7. One little woodland owl from Pier1 ($9 – he’s my consolation stand-in for the one I wanted.  Sniff.)

Seriously, that’s it.  If my math is correct, total damage was just under $100 with tax.  Everything else I pulled out of my attic tubs of autumn stuff or from other places in the house   Not bad, eh?

Oh wait…there is one more item; check out the new painting below.  Does it count?  It wasn’t a deliberate acquisition, but the product of girls’ night out last Saturday at Faithful Strokes.  (And here I was giving my friends a hard time that I didn’t know where I would hang this painting if I painted it.  I’m glad they guilted me into going!)

See the little owl?  He’s cute – just not as big as the one I had my eye and heart set on

I know we’re barely one day into the official fall season, but I’m already envisioning these deeper blues paired with shimmery silver when it’s time to decorate for the winter holidays.  For the next several weeks, the peacock blue and orange theme will reign–all the way through Thanksgiving.  It’s always exciting to see the seasons unfold outdoors, and fall is definitely the season for colors to unfurl both indoors and out…much like a peacock proudly fanning out his iridescent plumage.

Happy fall!

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Granted, the math doesn’t work, but let’s hope my plans do.

As of today, there are eight precious weekends before Labor Day weekend. (And I am determined that Labor Day weekend is not going to be a weekend of labor for us this year.)

So what loose ends do I really really want to wrap up by the time the Vols kick off their opening game in 50 days?

  • Finish refinishing a bedroom dresser. After languishing for a year, this has drifted to the top of my priority list only because I am tired of feeling guilty every time I pass it in the garage.
    • Put the finishing touches on our new master bathroom: paint walls, hang a shelf, re-do the cabinet storage and hang a chandelier. Easy peasy, right?  Don’t answer that.
      • Recover the dining room seat cushions. By hook or by crook, they’re gonna get done this summer. I have the new foam cushions, I just need fabric and some quality time with the staple gun.
        • Power wash and paint the porch rails and front door. This is one of those jobs I really have to psych myself up for. But the good thing is, the porch stays shady all day long.
          • Find the perfect couch for Mr. Official’s man cave.  It will make it the bees’ knees up there.  And once it’s installed upstairs, the final loose end for the summer is….
            • Paint the stairwell areas and hang pictures. I promised myself these areas should wait until we were moved in. Well, we’re moved in and the days are slipping past.

              So there you have it:  my top weekend projects to finish before September 2, not counting the garage cleanout at the old place.  Most of these will take about a weekend to do, if I use my time wisely (and maybe get a little help. Hint, hint.)

              I just noticed that everything except #3 and #5 involves paint or stain. Guess I better stock up on brushes and rollers and paint thinner.  Joy.

              But I’m not going to think about any of these until we wrap up the next housewarming party, which happens tomorrow night.  It’s gonna be great to see some old friends of ours and get acquainted with some other Friday night football widows as the men in striped shirts swap gridiron war stories.

              Happy project-ing!

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              Musical Chairs

              The new house has the dining room I have longed for, for like FOREVER – it’s big, it has two large windows plus a set of French doors that open to the wraparound porch, wainscoting, high ceiling…the works. In a word – it’s perfect.   Except for the paint color, which is red.  Been there, done that.  So the new dining room will get a new color scheme…and new dining room seat cushions.

              (Sidenote:  I have found that seat cushions and pillows, like paint, are inexpensive ways to quickly update and rejuvenate a room, especially if you’re willing to shop around a bit for your fabric.)

              But I should start at the beginning.

              My dining room set is mismatched – by choice, if not design.  The art-deco era table belonged to my grandparents. Their homes were tiny and their family was huge.  In their last house, the dining room table was relegated to an enclosed sun porch and used mainly to hold my grandmother’s houseplants.  During family gatherings it got a workout serving meals, a space to work on puzzles, play card games, and sit around and gab.  When I got it about 15 years ago, it had a maple finish and was marred with some serious water spots from a roof or plant pot leak.

              I refinished the table and applied a fruitwood stain.  I used it and the six accompanying chairs as a matched set for a few years.  But then I found a reproduction Duncan-Phyfe table and four lyre-back chairs in a second-hand store, and I loved the chairs enough to buy the whole set.  In case you’re interested, the lyre-back chair is almost synonymous with this Scottish-born furniture maker who made a name for himself in New York City during the first half of the 19th century.  He used the lyre shape on both chairs and tables.  It’s almost impossible (and very expensive) to own an authentic piece of Duncan Phyfe furniture, but reproductions abound, especially in vintage pieces produced in the 1930s to 1950s.

              At any rate, the second table and I parted ways when we left Oklahoma in 2000 (thanks to mom and dad for taking it off my hands!) but I took all ten chairs with us when we moved back to Tennessee that year.

              The chairs in their original state – blah.

              Several years ago, I revamped the formal dining and living areas of our current house. Ten chairs were about four too many for the small space. I discarded the original 6 dining room chairs (no groaning at my callousness, these were rickety and not terribly attractive, despite my efforts to gussy them up – check out the photo to the left.  No amount of crackle paint and pretty cushions could transform them into graceful, sturdy chairs.)

              Once the old chairs were gone, I purchased two parsons chairs for the ends of the table instead of trying to match the foursome.  So my chairs remain mismatched, by choice.

              Fast-forward to now.  My beloved lyre-back chairs have had the same 1990s green fabric for a long time.  Too long.  The color scheme for the new dining room is a mineral blue and mocha brown.  But instead of going for a sedate fabric in brown or blue, my heart hankered for a jolt of color and a trellis pattern to echo the rug destined for the new dining room.

              “Imperial Trellis” in Citrine 

              When I spotted this popular (and expensive) fabric designed by Kelly Wearstler for Shumacher, I knew I had to have something similar. It’s a gorgeous fabric, but if you go in search of it as I did, be prepared for sticker shock – it retails for around $175 a yard.  To cover dining chairs you don’t need much, but it was still more than I wanted to spend.  (I love the fabric but I’m not marrying it, you know?)

              It took me a while to convince a friend (with impeccable taste and an artist’s eye for colors) that I could make key lime work in this color scheme.  Or maybe she just relented and decided to let me do what I wanted to do all along.  Either way I appreciate her input and advice.

              With her help, I interviewed several fabric swatches, holding up one of the new drape panels behind to determine the level of conflict between the green and blue:

              And eventually chose “Felton” in kiwi (it’s made by Croscill, if you’re looking for it): 

              Even better, I found these wood folding chairs made by Stakmore and sold in pairs (Linens n Things had the best price and free – and fast! – shipping), and they are very similar to my lyre-back chairs. That means I can easily pull up two more chairs when needed and store them in the coat closet when I don’t.  And yes, I am covering them in the same trellis fabric as the other chairs, so while the chairs may still be mismatched, they will all have the same fabric on their seats.

              So there you have it – my story of musical chairs.  Pictures of the new dining room are coming soon…stay tuned!

              Happy decorating!

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