If you have not visited Joni Webb's fabulous blog, Cote de Texas, this is the week to stop by! Joni is an extremely talented designer in Texas. Her blog was recently selected as one of the top ten decorating blogs of 2008-9 by the Washington Post. This week Joni reviews the Belgian Style that is so hot right now across the country.

Joni describes Belgian decor as "quiet and monotone .. plain linens .. antique elements – ancient stone floors, beams, marble staircases, and acres of limed wood - everywhere. Textures are a very large part of this style – rough, rustic woods and stone surfaces are played against smooth, shiny crystals and glass."

In our increasing complicated world this is a style to come home, relax and unwind in - serene and almost austere.

Please stop by Cote de Texas and see the entire post.

I have saved it as one of my all time favorites, so do not miss it! Here is the link:

...into my newly organized laundry room which holds...

...everything I need, at an arm's reach, including...

...a mending basket for clothes that need buttons sewn back on, as well as...

...the kids' art supplies and favorite games.

I now have plenty of room to sort, wash, dry and fold all within this room.
So while it may not be the laundry room of my dreams, like this...

...or this...

...or this...

...or even these...

...it is now a place that I am happy to be in and it functions perfectly as
just a laundry room!

Why, you ask?
Because today was the day that my laundry room finally became
just a laundry room!

And I am so excited about it! You see, for the past year and a half this room has been working over-time as laundry room/office/craft room/storage room, all while washing and drying laundry for a family of five. It was far too much to ask and it was failing miserably. I wanted to take a picture of the "before", but it was so bad that I couldn't even bring myself to push the button on the camera.
It was that bad!

A while back we built a desk for a client and since it was too cold in the garage I had to paint it in my bedroom, so that it would be warm enough for the paint to dry and cure. It was then that I knew it was possible to carve out some space in our master bedroom and have an "office" all for myself.
(It makes me smile just typing that!)
My husband was not on board with my idea at the time, but yesterday upon opening the laundry room door and being greeted by a seemingly never-ending pile of clothes and a washing machine and dryer covered in cardboard, wood, paint and paintbrushes, he suddenly saw the light!

He began building me a desk right away!

Here is the corner of our room as it has always been and where I am putting my new office...

Here is a mock-up! Perfect spot, right?

My hard working husband building away...

The desk was built entirely out of materials that we already had. Bonus!

I love the wood grain! I'm a sucker for knots and imperfections! The more character the better, if you ask me!

This is a bookcase that we've had for many years. It has moved with us from state-to-state, house-to-house. And now it is getting a new lease on life!

A pretty routered edge on the top...

And brand new doors built from scratch by my handy man!

We added knobs and we're designing and building a top for it, so it will be like a hutch. It will sit behind my desk and hold everything that I need!

Today I got the laundry room all cleared out and now the only thing non-laundry in there is a basket full of the kids' art supplies which used to sit on top of the fridge. I was happy to be able to find a new home for it and the laundry room held the perfect spot for it. But other than that, all you will find is laundry inspired items!

And I'm quite happy about that!

Off to paint the desk and cabinet!

Today I am participating in my very first Metamorphosis Monday. It is hosted by Susan at Between Naps On The Porch. It's a fun way to see lots of "Before and After" pictures of projects that people have done all throughout blogland. Click on the picture of the butterfly to learn more and to see a list of this week's participants.

I am showing the transformation that we very recently made to our family room and kitchen.
You can find it here on my blog.

Be sure to make your way over to Between Naps On The Porch! It is chock full of inspiration and lots of "how-to" advice!


I entered the Shabby Chic store in Natick , Massachusetts today - and it was practically empty. Everything in the store was 50% percent off !

Shabby Chic Website
As you can guess most items were already gone. The women working said it was not confirmed but they may have to close their doors. They were not allowed to take orders and were advising customers that if they wanted to order something they should do it online.

Shabby Chic Website
They would not confirm, but suggested that some of the other stores across the country may be closing in the future. We hope not, as Shabby Chic is such an inspiration!  
Another bad sign of the state of our economy.

Shabby Chic Website
I did happen to pick up some really wonderful pillows, though!

The other day, while browsing one of my favorite design blogs, I came across a post and had a definite "Why didn't I think of that?" moment! I think you may possibly feel the same. Here is their post and this is my take on it...

Many months ago I had purchased this Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Spring Cleaning Kit at my local grocery store. The scent: Rhubarb. I love rhubarb and I also love the way Mrs. Meyers' products capture the true fragrance. I expected to use it right a way, but I decided that I should probably use up my other cleaning products before opening more bottles. Time passed and this little box got pushed to the corner of the laundry room shelf.

So, while reading Sherry and John's post on their blog, This Young House, it occurred to me that I had everything I needed to create my own aroma diffuser. A glass vase, wooden skewers from the grocery store and a pretty, scented liqiud. It was their idea to use the Mrs. Meyer's All Purpose Cleaner. A lightbulb turned on and I remembered that I had some waiting for me in the corner of my laundry room! Score! I had everything I needed. Cost: FREE!

I've had my brand new (home made!) aroma diffuser sitting on the mantle in our living room for a few days now and I can honestly say that the scent fills the room. Here's what I really love about it: I've had aroma diffusers before that use essential oils to provide the fragrance. I have never appreciated the clean-up from the oil since drips can happen when you turn the sticks over (to refresh the scent). I have learned that the oily residue can leave spots on some surfaces if not cleaned up immediately. With the Mrs. Meyer's All Purpose Cleaner it's a breeze to wipe up. It's just soap. Count it as "cleaning"!

I was thrilled that I already had everything that I needed right here at home. But, even if I hadn't, it would not have cost much to purchase these items. Ten dollars, maybe? Of course, this all depends on how extravagant you get with your vase! But $10 is far better than the alternative: spending $25 or more to buy one at the store and hoping that you love the scent once you get it home and put up on display.

So, much thanks to John and Sherry for sharing their idea!
Take it from me, it was easy! Try it out! You won't be disappointed!

Many of you have emailed me for information about the whimsical clock I have in my kitchen. I thought it timely to share with you the work of Concord, Massachusetts Folk Artist, Rich Dunbrack.

I came upon his work quite unexpectedly at a Sunday morning flea market in Rowley, MA almost ten years ago. There he had stored in a barn, several pieces which were not for sale, but waiting to ship to lucky, new owners. I was immediately smitten with his work. Rich uses found objects and architectural antiques to create his one of kind pieces. Cupboards and clocks can contain fragments of old buildings, antique iron grates, bedposts, clock faces, old farm tools, eel spears, wooden paper mache molds and old barn siding. He meticulously blends these elements together and creates what he calls art that is "utilitarian with elements of vitality." You can"t help but smile when you see his work in person.

Here are a few of his pieces:

Happy Moon Cupboard

Includes building salvage from western Massachusetts, house and tobacco farm materials and an antique moon paper mache mold.

Head and Shoulders Above - Tall Clock

Fabricated from southern Vermont salvage, Victorian house fragments, a bronze doll's head and a period clock dial
Old Road to Nine Acre Corner - Column Cupboard

Built with period New Hampshire artifacts including a Federal house column, Victorian house fragments and iron fittings and hardware, Victrola tube and a mahogany, folk art carved figure.

This custom desk built for the owner of The Zoo Factory in Florida is only one of a few desks Dunbrack has ever fabricated. Another sits happily in Carly Simon's house in Martha's Vineyard. Simon was an early collector and supporter of Dunbrack's art.
Spying Moon - Cupboard / Pantry

Fabricated from Southern NH reclaim, 1800's Federal house materials, period folk art carving and cast stove fragments The 5 Hole - Cupboard

Fabricated from southern Vermont salvage, Brattleboro, VT Arts & Crafts period home, folk art carving, and an early eel spear.
If you continue to be intrigued, check out Rich's website at http://www.thethievingmagpie.com/.
I am sure it will bring a smile to your face!

When I bought my house I felt the kitchen needed some minor renovation. Here's what I liked: the layout and the windows across the entire back of the space,which gave it incredible light. I liked the white cabinets, and the recessed ceiling in the kitchen area. What I didn't like was the lack of a center island and the way the cabinets seemed cut the space in half. I disliked the backsplash, and the very badly scratched white Corian counters. I also disliked the lack of mouldings and details, that were so abundant in the other rooms of the house. These pictures were taken when the house was for sale and include the previous owners furniture and accessories.

The area above is also the family room space, though they had taken out the couch and love seat. I felt like the table was too close to the family room. An area needed to be added for the table to have its own space. During this renovation we designed and created a glass breakfast room for the table.

Here are some inspiration photos:

This is a Victoria Hagen kitchen. I loved the soapstone, subway tile and pendant lights. I also liked the beadboard ceiling, but perhaps a bit more scaled back.

These two kitchens are from the Swedish Company, Kvanum Kok. I love the hardwood floors, soapstone counters and glass cabinets. I especially fell in love with the X cabinets.

I loved this box out behind the stove for oils, peppermill, etc. I liked the different tiles with the white subway tile. But I preferred Calcutta marble in a herringbone pattern like this one below:

Here's my inspiration:Here is my box out behind my stove:

Here is the full view. I also added a marble shelf. It is a small feature but it adds so much!

Here is the before looking into the kitchen: (that is me holding my nephew while my sister takes the photos)
Here is the after:

We pulled out the small upper cabinets above the island and added pendant lights. We replaced the upper cabinets by the stove. Then we also pulled out four of the lower cabinets to create a center island. The new "island" has curved soapstone, which you can not see in this picture. Notice the beadboard in the recess of the ceiling and the pendant lights. Also look at the before picture and notice how the windows are lower than the doorways - this always annoyed me, but I was able to correct it during the process.Notice the plain ceilings in the before picture and the beadboard ceilings in the after. Also new sinks and faucets and moulding details. I also added ice box latches and bin pulls to the cabinets.Here is a great picture of the windows which have been raised up about 4 inches so the door and window moldings align.

Here is the TV area before: And after:
New gas fireplace and mantle. Notice the detail work; the moldings wrap the entire room and match the living room moldings which are original to the house.
Here is another view which peeks into the living room and dining room. (The clock is an art piece by a local artist who uses salvage materials to create new objects) Finally the kitchen looking toward the Butler's pantry. I think the gray walls of the kitchen with a touch of marble and beadboard ceiling, ties in nicely with the gray cabinets, marble and beadboard in the pantry.

As soon as my new furniture and chandelier arrive I will show you the lovely glass breakfast room with beadboard ceiling and adjacent family room area!
A little inspiration, finding the right quality cabinetmakers and lots of time helped bring my kitchen up to date and back to the original quality of the rest of the house. We are very happy with the result.


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