Tag Archives: decor

10 Pretty Ways to Refresh a Gray Palette

Gray can be a great color in a room…but only if it used the right way. Often it can end up looking really drab and need a bit of brightening up to bring it to glory. We love this article which provides some really great ideas to do just that. 


Gray has proved to be one of our collective favorite color picks for the home in recent years. We’ve been strutting our gray stuff for a few seasons now, and the trend shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. But with the spring sunshine, it’s definitely time to uplift our beloved palette of charcoal, pebble and dove with a few dashes of color and print. Be inspired by these 10 gray refreshes, guaranteed to put a spring in your step.

1. Bring in some sunshine.

Gray and yellow have long been a clever color combination for fashion and our homes. Adding this sunshine shade is a really simple way to pep up a palette of gray and white in the spring, reminding us of daffodils, primroses and sunny days to come. Choose any hue from the yellow spectrum — from citrus lemon to earthy mustard — for an instant interiors lift that’s sure to put a smile on your face.

2. Add a bolt of crimson.

It’s fair to say that gray can be a triumph in every single room, and it’s a winner in the kitchen. These Shaker-style rich gray units anchor the bottom half of this cooking space beautifully, letting the white upper level max out on light and airiness. What makes it, though, is the bold blast of crimson in the form of a curvaceous fridge-freezer. If that’s too much of a commitment, try a scarlet backsplash, an artwork or even just a kettle or tea towel.

3. Soften with pastels.

Pale, barely-there gray can be an ideal backdrop for an open-plan living zone where lots of different functions need to blend harmoniously into one space. This room is freshened, though, with a smattering of pretty pinks and lilacs on rugs, cushions and artworks; the pastel palette offers a taste of springtime sweetness.

4. Flip out on florals.

One of the simplest and most effective ways to lift a gray palette for spring is with a pile of floral-inspired cushions or throws to bring a taste of the blooming outside world into your interior. This foolproof design trick — which can be used in the bedroom, living room and dining area — allows you to let loose on wild colors and flamboyant prints, as the gray will temper the overall vibe.

5. Soften with vintage.

Gray might be associated with urban grit, but it can also conjure a certain sense of faded grandeur with very little effort. I love the earthy gray tone of this bathroom, which hits just the right vintage note with the classic pedestal basin, tongue and groove paneling and antique mirror. For spring, lighten up the look even further with some striped cotton hammam towels and a billowing sheer at the window.

6. Pick a patterned floor.

Break up blocks of gray with eye-catching patterns and prints. This leaf design nods to the emerging spring greenery outside and turns the “plain floors, patterned walls” concept on its head with great style and masses of confidence. It also shows how all things gray blend beautifully with a mix of weathered and silvery woods.

7. Be bluer.

If you want to be totally ahead of the game design wise, this is definitely the kitchen for you. Mixing two of the hottest colors on the interiors calendar this season, it teams pale gray cabinets with a rich indigo island. The flash of copper in the pendant lights adds warmth to the scheme, giving it a sunny mood.

8. Mix in metallics.

Using pewter and silver is the perfect way to harness the glamorous side of gray. The glint and gleam of these gray-toned metallics is spot-on for this bathroom, where mirrored mosaics, pearlized furniture and silvery accessories create a magical, Moroccan vibe that’s hard to beat. If you feel like warming the gray further, introduce brass fittings.

9. Brave a pattern clash.

Have fun with gray, as it’s such a flexible neutral color with which to decorate. This pebble- and charcoal-colored leaf wallpaper offers a soothing backdrop, while the geometric-print chair adds energizing color and pattern. The pattern mix is startling but works thanks to the leaf-green color against the leafy motif.

10. Accent with white.

Dark, saturated gray is my current color crush. It looks especially elegant, striking and modern when used from floor to ceiling on baseboards, walls and doors. For spring, highlight the moody tones with a few lighter pieces of furniture, sticking to a monochromatic theme for simplicity at its very best.

Have you glorified your gray palette lately? Please share your ideas and inspiration in the Comments below.

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10 Home Decor Improvements You Can Do in Just One Hour

We love homemade DIY projects that are quick and easy, but make a HUGE difference to your home. When we saw this article we loved their ideas; so simple and yet so inspired!


Changing the clocks has got us thinking about what a difference one hour makes. We all know we would benefit from an extra hour of sleep, maybe another hour to run errands, or an additional hour in our weekends, but how much of a difference can one hour make in your home? Well, you can be the judge of that, with these 1-hour home improvement DIY ideas from productive Hometalk bloggers!

1. Install a new faucet and sink

Upgrade a tired bathroom by switching out the hardware. Before calling in a costly professional, find out just how quick and easy this home improvement is to DIY — here’s how it’s done!


2. Fill those empty walls

Nothing says “design in progress” like stark, empty walls. The right wall decor can make any room look put together and well arranged, and this decorating hack is the shortcut to get it done.


3. Set up a succulent terrarium

Bring your home to life in less than an hour, with these easy DIY terrariums. Don’t worry — even if you’re a certified black thumb, you won’t have any trouble keeping succulents in your home.


4. Hang a rope-wrapped porch swing

Upgrade a hanging porch swing or hammock chair, by wrapping that clunky metal chain in thick rope. This quick update won’t only improve your decor, it will eliminate pinched fingers for good!


5. Earn the best owner award

All it takes is one hour to become your kitty’s favorite person, with a sweet cat window perch. It’s a fun home detail for you and a cozy lounging spot for your fur baby. Instructions here!


6. Add easy porch seating

Whether you’re looking for decor or function, this mini rustic bench can be built in 1 hour, and for just $8! It’s spring — why not add some fun detail to your outdoor spaces? Here’s how to do it.


7. Put up cafe curtains in any room

Finding the right window treatment can be a challenge, and putting it up can be a pain. Instead, try this 1 hour window treatment hack, to add a little character to your home without too much stress.


8. Make some stylish bathroom storage

Attach an old wooden crate to your bathroom wall, and voila! You’ve got the perfect charming perch for extra TP rolls. With all that extra time, add more details if you’ve got ’em, like a vintage license plate to close off your crate.


9. Build a blanket or towel ladder

You’ve been seeing these trendy storage ladders everywhere, but without a ladder of your own, you were out of luck. Here’s the 1 hour ladder DIY to help you get your linens in order!


10. Create a pretty jewelry organizer

Turn thrift store supplies into colorful storage, with this thrifty 1 hour upcycle for a double-duty DIY that holds your jewelry and looks fab doing it!

Article from http://huff.to/1b4PwJA

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10 Reasons to Use Sky Blue

Don’t you just love the color blue? So warm and inviting and will go with almost anything; what’s not to love? When we saw these 10 reasons to use sky blue, we couldn’t help but share. Enjoy!


It hints at the seaside, picnics under a clear sky and springtime gardens — what’s not to love about sky blue? From a home’s exterior to ceilings, bedrooms, kitchens and more, sky blue can bring a light touch to any room in the house. Here are 10 reasons to try fresh, versatile sky blue in your next decorating project.

1. Sky blue works all year long.

In the spring, sky blue looks fresh alongside pale green and citron. In summer, crisp white and vibrant turquoise are natural partners for this versatile hue. In the cooler months, warm it up with rich, fall-inspired orange, chocolate or gold.


2. Sky blue is a crowd pleaser.

Looking for a color that everyone in the household can get behind? Sky blue is bright and fun enough for color lovers, subdued enough for classicists and loved by men and women alike.


3. Sky blue is timeless.

When choosing colors for big-ticket items in your home — cabinetry, tilework, a new sofa — it pays to go with a classic hue that will not look dated or tired after a season or two. Sky blue is classic, versatile and easy to live with.

4. Sky blue cools down warm hues.

Using colors from both the warm and cool end of the color spectrum in the same space makes for a dynamic look. Try pairing sky blue with cherry-red accents for a fresh, summery look.

5. Sky blue is clean looking.

Want a fresh, clean look to go with that spring cleaning? Sky blue, a color that calls to mind clear waters and summery skies, is a great choice for enhancing a neat-as-a-pin look — which makes it a good choice for home staging, too.

6. Sky blue is polished.

Paired with creamy and sandy hues, sky blue is simple, understated and elegant. It’s a classic choice for a living room color scheme that works year-round — just add rich chocolate-brown pillows and a caramel-colored throw in the fall.

7. Sky blue is cheerful.

Whether it calls to mind childhood memories of watching clouds in a blue sky or laid-back days at the beach, sky blue is bound to bring up some positive associations. Adding a few small touches of blue, like the vintage bucket used to hold flowers here, is an easy (and budget-friendly) way to update your home with the season.

8. Sky blue is beachy.

It doesn’t get much more coastal than a simple blue and white color scheme. For a twist, try using sky blue in a less-expected place — like beneath the kitchen island, as shown here, or on the ceiling. For a budget-friendly beach makeover, collect mismatched wood chairs at yard sales and give them all a coat of white paint; once they’re dry, paint just halfway up the chair legs sky blue.

9. Sky blue brings the outdoors in.

Painting a wall (or ceiling) sky blue is like putting in an extra window. Pair it with beadboard and a farmhouse sink in the kitchen, or brush it on the ceiling of a porch furnished with white rocking chairs — however you use it, you’d be hard-pressed to find another color with as much potential for charm as sky blue.

10. Sky blue works on exteriors, too.

The wrong green can look peaked, a too-bright yellow can be garish — not all hues are easy to get right on exteriors. But the sky-like nature of this light to midtone blue makes it an easy-to-work-with choice for exteriors as well as interior rooms.

Tell us: Are you a fan of sky blue?

Article from http://bit.ly/1xy4xOp

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10-minute Updates to Give Your Home a Freshen Up

We know what it’s like around the home – you envision a perfect home that is perfectly tidy and in order, but then life gets in the way and it looks much less than perfect! When we read this blog on Houzz about giving your home a freshen up, we had to share it with our readers. Check out their great tips on what you can do to make your place look GREAT! It just shows that even the smallest changes can make the biggest difference.

Styling: 10-minute Updates to Give Your Home a Freshen Up

You spend time poring over the gorgeous interiors on Houzz, but then life gets in the way of you making your own place look perfect. Sound familiar? Lack of money, energy and time can mean you never quite get around to your spruce-up paint job, that new flooring gets put on hold, you’re still lounging on that unloved old sofa… I could go on. However, while you wait, there are small things you can do to cheer up your space, and that don’t require entire weekends spent constructing flat-packs or prowling the DIY store. Whether it’s a messy desk or a grubby hall, take 10 minutes out to subtly improve them and you’ll feel much better.

Reboot your coffee table

Much of the art of creating a stylish home is about stopping to consider what you already have and how best to display it. So don’t leave your most beautiful books tucked away on high shelves. The pile of arty hardbacks on a coffee table might feel something of a homes cliché, but it can actually be a rather effective way of adding personality to a living space.

Here, the owners have created a selection of mini book towers – on the main table, on a side table and, unusually, on the floor. The interesting ceramics, meanwhile, add another point of interest. This trick only takes minutes and can be changed whenever you fancy a new selection of books to peruse.

Try the power of three

Three objects arranged in a small cluster are instantly interpreted by the eye as a carefully edited group display, rather than a random concoction – be they on a mantelpiece or a table. These two ceramic containers teamed with a simple glass bottle vase are a case in point. Try objects of subtly different lengths or widths for maximum effect.

Tip Some blowsy white blooms in a glass vase is another instant update that works pretty much anywhere. Hit your local florist’s or get busy with your secateurs in the garden.


Space out your shelf display

It may be tempting to stuff your shelves full of books so you utilise every storage inch. But by reserving part of a shelf to display interesting objects, you not only create a sense of space in a room, you also turn what could be a workaday piece of furniture into an eclectic style statement.

This brilliant blue unit has been used for books as well as a variety of objects, including a teapot, retro radio and jewel-like wine glasses. Try restyling your shelves for a similar effect: the impact on a room can be astounding. These owners have also loosely colour-coded the spines of the books to further ‘tidy up’ the look.


Frame your kids’ drawings

If you have a wall that’s looking dull or bare and you have young children, there’s really no need to spend a fortune on limited editions. Kids’ drawings are colourful and characterful, and can look lovely displayed en masse, as this gallery wall proves.

Mix tacked-up sketches with a few of your children’s favourite compositions in simple white frames. You’ll cherish them for years to come.


Declutter your study

Is your home office a mess of torn envelopes, half-forgotten bills and old supermarket discount vouchers? Take a few minutes out to tidy, clean and polish your desk. If you don’t have a system, create one, assigning different drawers and in-trays for urgent and non-urgent paperwork. Gather stray pens together: recycle an old tin or use a favourite mug as a holder if nothing else is at hand.

Finally, if you have more time, you could copy the above trick and hang clipboards on a wall for a low-cost, utilitarian display, then use different clips for different to-do lists. The result: clearer desk, clearer mind.


Rearrange your cushions

Few things change the look of a living room so easily as a variety of interesting cushions. A tired sofa can be revived, a neglected armchair brought back into use or a plain bed given the hotel factor.

Take a look at the cushions you already own: could they be combined in a more interesting arrangement, as seen here? Experiment with them on different chairs in different rooms, to see whether they’d work better elsewhere.

If you don’t have cushions you love to hand, treat yourself to some new ones: many high street stores sell great designs for reasonable prices these days.


Display a bright tea towel

Tea towels have become the cushions of the kitchen. Easily changed around, a bright design can instantly lift a plain white room and, left on display, as here, cheer you up on gloomy mornings.

Build up a collection of pretty designs – there are gazillions around – so that when one is in the wash, you have another on standby. Hang one over the back of a cupboard door or oven handle to lift a run of boring units. And if you find one you really love, then why not frame it?


Style your coat peg

If your hallway coat pegs are a monstrous tangle of hats, scarves, coats and tatty cloth bags, take 10 minutes to strip back to basics. Pack away (or give away) anything that’s out of season or out of fashion, leaving just a few lovely things on display. The result will vastly improve the look of your hallway.

If you want to go further, treat yourself to a stylish coat hook, such as this design classic Eames Hang-it-all rack, or one of the many other quirky, cool designs around nowadays.


Mix up your ceramics

Lovely things are meant to be enjoyed – and can distract the eye from an otherwise unspectacular space. If you have a collection of colourful ceramics, don’t hide them away. Instead, create an eclectic display on an open shelf in a kitchen or on a sideboard. Here jars, cups and coffee sets have been lined up in groups. The colourful, interesting result successfully lifts the eye from the plain white units and tiles.


Lay your table

Nothing says ‘home’ like a dining table laid out for a meal. So clear away the toast crumbs and the pile of junk mail and use what you have to hand. It doesn’t have to be fancy – a plain white tablecloth, that rustic breadboard you use every day, your much-loved battered Italian coffee pot. Finish off with some flowers in a vase. Doesn’t that look better?


Clean your hall

Is your hallway a riot of muddy skirting boards and grubby fingermarks on walls and banisters? Hallways get more of a battering than nearly anywhere in the house, especially if you have bikes, buggies or children, and can often be neglected. However, a few minutes with some all-purpose cleaner, a duster and some serious elbow grease can make a difference.

Scrub grimy woodwork, mop every corner of the floor and take time to tackle oft-neglected areas, such as in-between balusters on the staircase. If you have spare paint, get a small brush and touch up chipped boards and dirty marks, too.

Blog via http://bit.ly/1E5ngNS
Images via Houzz
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Apartment Decor You Can Make During a Snowstorm

There are a lot of ways to keep cabin fever at bay during a snowstorm, and crafting up apartment decor is definitely one of them.


America (especially the East Coast), we hear you: It’s really cold out there. The snow continues to fall, the temperatures are plummeting and you’re longing for patios, warm weather and not having to bundle up so much. However, coming up with great ideas to keep your apartment looking nice and cozy will make getting snowed in not so bad after all!


Not only will these projects help pass the time on those dreary winter evenings, but you can stay productive and increase the value of your apartment, which is sure to make your landlord happy.


Here are some great apartment decor ideas for renters who love the do-it-yourself aesthetic:


Add Some Flair to Your Bookcases

Bookcases have a practical purpose, but there’s no reason why they don’t deserve a little extra attention along with your other furniture. For instance, you can add patterned paper along the shelf backings for some extra pizzazz or, if you’re feeling really adventurous, you can try your hand at painting your bookcases! A little splash of color can go a long way in an otherwise “blah” room.


In fact, painting your furniture in general is an easy way to sprinkle some of your colorful personality into the apartment, especially if your landlord is particularly stringent about what you can and can’t paint.

Make your Own Knobs and Pulls

Not a huge fan of those kitchen cabinets? All it takes is a quick trip to the home goods store and a few crafting supplies, and you can make your very own cabinet knobs and pulls.

You can make these as flashy or muted as you like, but custom​-made knobs add a lot of character into a kitchen, which is a room that tends to get ignored when it comes to apartment decor.

Use Vintage Necklaces to Tie Back Your Curtains

Your landlord might not let you change out the curtains, but that doesn’t mean you can’t spruce them up a bit. Take a cue from Buzzfeed and find some inexpensive vintage rhinestone necklaces while you are out shopping. Then, use them to tie back your curtains. This adds a lot of sparkle to your living room or bedroom without going overboard.

Frame Pieces of Fabric

If you can’t shell out the big bucks for purchased art or aren’t much of a painter, head to your local fabric store and pick up a pattern that you like for a fraction of the price. Simply tie the fabric around a frame and hang it like you would a poster or painting. Your guests will never know you spent less than $20 for such beautiful wall decor.

Hang Clipboards Instead of Picture Frames

Mashable shared the brilliant idea of hanging clipboards instead of picture frames. These can serve a practical purpose, such as posting a grocery list or a list of to-dos in the kitchen. However, we love the thought of clipping some of your favorite photos to the clipboards in areas like your bedroom or living room. Not only do these add a wonderful personal touch to your apartment decor, but they are also quite easy on your wallet.

Ribbon Your Lampshades

Better Homes and Gardens came up with this quick and easy craft that adds a beautiful splash of color to those boring white and beige lampshades. Simply pick up ribbon(s) in whichever hue(s) you prefer at your local craft store.

Next, tie the ribbon around the top or bottom of the lampshade and secure the ends in a knot. You can add some hot glue if you really want to make sure the ribbon is secure.

Use Wine Corks to Create Wall Art

A lot of wine aficionados like to collect the corks for the bottles they’ve enjoyed. Why not use these corks to create one-of-a-kind wall art to showcase all of the varietals you’ve sipped on this winter?

All you need is an adhesive to fasten the corks to one another and some wall hooks. If you like, you can even use polyurethane for an extra glossy feel.

Make a Paintbrush Vase

Country Living blogger Camilla Fabbri came up with an adorable idea of using your old paintbrushes to create a stunning vase. All you need to do is grab a vase, wrap two rows of plain rubber bands around the vase.

Then, one by one, slide the paintbrushes inside of the bands until the paintbrushes completely surround the vase. This is going to look quite gorgeous on your kitchen table once spring rolls around and your vase is full of seasonal blooms!

Hide Your Wireless Router in an Old Hollowed-Out Book

Do you have an old hardback book that’s completely falling apart? Kill two birds with one stone by hollowing out the book so just the frame is left. Then, simply slide your router inside and rest other knick-knacks on top.

Let’s face it: Routers aren’t the prettiest of electronics, and this is a very clever idea to hide away this common eyesore.

There you have it! With a little creativity, a few hours and maybe a little elbow grease, you can create your very own handmade apartment decor with ease.


Blog from: http://huff.to/1BfLHLE


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The Somerset Living Room – A Modern Tranformation

In the Somerset Living Room, the room before lacked color and personality, so we injected new style and life in to it. The home owners wanted something completely new and different and to bring new life into the space they used so frequently.

The windows had previously been bare and unused, so we added a new neutral wall color around them and custom drapery, removing the floral patterns from the living area. A custom built fireplace mantel was installed which allowed the TV to be fitted into the surround and gave the room a great entertainment feel. We also installed 3/4″ hardwood flooring which added a modern day twist to this stunning room and made it feel cozy and very inviting. Warmth was created with a new area rug, and decorative accents were added as well as several new furniture pieces to bring the entire room together. Colorful accents were added in the form of new art work and floral arrangements, proving that it is the little touches that can really make a difference in a home.

The new owners loved the new look and are looking forward to spending many evenings in their new living room, as well as bringing friends and family around to show off their new room.

A Stunning Project: The Metuchen Fireplace

For this Metuchen Fireplace project, the owners’ fireplace when we began was a simple installation in the wall; it lacked any color or design which is where we stepped in to help. A fireplace can become a real centerpiece in any room, adding life and color and making it a lovely piece for any size family and certainly perfect for warm and cozy nights in. This is exactly what the family were looking for.

We got together and planned the project from start to finish; we wanted it to project warmth, be inviting, stand out in its own right and be a piece that anyone coming through the home would love.

We designed and constructed a custom fireplace surround in a stunning white, which included a situated position for the family TV at the top of the surround. For the fire below, we installed a custom glass tile around the fire box which looked stunning and added color and pattern to the project, especially against the main white backdrop. When the fire was on and the TV fully working, it looked like it had always been a part of the family home.

The entire project looked beautiful on completion and the family loved it. It will certainly prove popular with family and friends too.

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How to Have a Little More Fun With Your Decor

It’s easy to go for tried and tested decor, but giving your home an offbeat twist can be more fun. If you’re new to adventurous interiors, you can dip a toe in the water by focusing on little details that pack a punch.

Play with scale.

We get so used to seeing neat arrangements of accessories — a tasteful trio of table lamps or a midsize vase and a smaller votive candle — that we think that’s how it must be done. Play around with pieces in an unexpected scale — such as this oversize flower arrangement on a small side table — and you will find yourself with all sorts of new possibilities. You can take this playfulness onto other surfaces, such as mantelpieces, shelving and dining tables too.

Go for quirky shelving.

Who says shelving has to be horizontal? These unusual box shelves are designed to be mounted at an angle. There are many offbeat and beautiful designs available these days as an alternative to the standard bookcase — so dare to be different.

Mount your favorite pieces.

A feature wall doesn’t have to be just about wallpaper. This homeowner has gone one step further by mounting a collection of vintage radios on the wall. Create your own 3D feature wall from old cameras, musical instruments, hats — just make it something you’re committed to collecting and that you will actually enjoy looking at day after day.

Turn clothing into art.

A beautiful vintage tea dress, a pretty kimono or a tailored suit can be turned into art. It’s a wonderful way to add interest to an alcove.

Choose cheeky wallpaper.

Add some fun to your hallway and set the tone with some Bond Girls wallpaper, or pick a risqué burlesque design. Alternatively, wallpaper designed for kids can look effective in a grown-up context. Fancy hot-air balloons or foxes in the hallway? Why not?

Mix traditional and retro.

Playful design is often about an unexpected juxtaposition. Disco balls are not, of course, authentic decor for a medieval priory with a beamed ceiling, but quirky finishing touches like this will set your home apart. When you’re tired of them, just take them down.

Carry it through to artwork.

Urban art looks great in a traditional period home, particularly above an elegant fireplace like this, which accentuates its subversive edge. Likewise, mixing traditional oil paintings or old masters into an ultracontemporary scheme will make them stand out.

Banish the white ceiling.

Many homes have white ceilings to keep from overpowering the flooring, walls and accessories. But what if you decide to make the ceiling the star of the show? Ornate tiles offer a big dose of the unexpected when paired with a plain white floor and walls.

Get nostalgic with Legos.

Bring a bit of your childhood back through Lego bricks. Here they jazz up a dividing wall. Surely incorporating toys into your interior is the ultimate in playfulness?

Blog from http://bit.ly/1zoNYD2
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Revealing a Special Hidden Playroom

All kids love their playrooms, and parents love them too; it keeps their little ones entertained! What can add an extra fun element to a playroom is one that is concealed…and we had the delight of working on one just like that.


Secret playroom entrance


In this project, a family found a small void in their living area behind their built in fireplace on the wall. The space was quite generous in size and an idea developed that it could become a rather charming – but concealed – playroom for the children.

This turned into an incredibly enjoyable project, especially because we knew the kids would be absolutely delighted with it on completion. The ‘secret’ entrance to the playroom was hidden behind a built in mirror that was part of the units next to the fire. Without knowing about the room, you wouldn’t be able to tell it was there.



We created a welcoming and homely clandestine area which included custom built seating, fun and exciting fabrics and walls that were decorated in chalk board paint; so many things to let the children’s imaginations run wild!

Take a look at the pictures of this exciting room.

Secret playroom1

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Pinecones Show Up in All Kinds of Christmas Decor

pineconesAt Christmas time, pine cones are everywhere.


They appear on wreaths, mantelpieces, tabletop displays and on Christmas trees. We spray paint their plain brown exteriors, transforming them into glittering, exotic jewels, if only for a month or so. We dress them up like little animals or hang them, streaming with ribbons, from the chandelier.


But what are these woody, spiky, resinous things that fall from the evergreens just in time to festoon the season?


Too often we dismiss the sticky, scaly pods as nuisances. They land in the driveway or choke the gutters. The yard is full of them every couple of years, necessitating a major clean-up.


But a little appreciation for these ancient seed-bearers is called for. They have appeared in arts and crafts throughout the ages, a symbol of eternity and enlightenment. Their prominent place in Christmas décor leaves out the storied journey that brings them to rest in our homes for six weeks of the year.


When visiting my brother in South Carolina a few years ago, I filled a box with the enormous pine cones dropping from the longleaf pines in his yard. Compared to the pickings from my spruces and white pines, these were prize cones, huge enough to decorate like little trees. At the other end of the spectrum are the dainty hemlock cones, like tiny wooden flowers gathered by the handful, or the hard blueberry-like juniper cones so prized by the birds.


Sizes and Seeds

Pine cones vary in size according to the type of conifer but they are unique to gymnosperms, plants that don’t produce flowers or fruit. Instead, they produce a “naked seed,” (translation of gymnosperm), that is housed within the cone’s scales.


If you’re picking up a pinecone from the ground, you’re picking up a female cone. Males are inconspicuous, clustered and deteriorate quickly after their pollen has wafted upward to the females, located toward the top or branch tips of the tree.


Pollen floats on the wind to the tiny female cone and lands on sticky fluid near the tip of the scale. The scale tip opens slightly to let the pollen into the cone, where it rests for a year. The female cone grows through the summer into a hard green structure with the scales held tightly together with resin. Fertilization won’t occur until the next spring. Once that occurs, the female cone grows as the seeds mature, getting larger and browner.



The stem that attaches to the branch of the tree continues through the entire length of the cone and multiple scales arise along its length in a spiral pattern to create the characteristic fish scale appearance of many species. Interestingly, pinecone scales follow the Fibonacci number ratios.


When the seeds are mature, the scales begin to separate from each other, becoming brown, dry and woody. Between the scales, two seeds rest atop each scale. In some species, the cones open at maturity and the seeds are released. In others the cones remain closed for several years until opened by rotting, food-seeking animals or fire.



A pine cone will go through many cycles of opening and closing during its life span based upon moisture content; cones are usually open when dry and closed when wet.


This puzzled me on the trip back from South Carolina with my trunk full of longleaf pine cones. I gathered them up full and open, tossing them into the box with abandon.


When I arrived home to chilly Delaware, they had closed up to half their size, a process repeated as long as I left them outside. Once inside they settled into their open shape and I placed them on shelves, wrapped in lights, where they will be this year.


Article from Delaware Online.

Images by Jeltovski and Gleangenie on Morguefile.

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