Friday, August 31, 2012

Go Team Ghana!

"GO TEAM GHANA!" is a group of "designers, dreamers, moon watchers, doers and vagabonds."  They're former designers from ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition", who are "taking our (their) skills and passion for designing with a purpose and spreading it like wild flower over seas. This time all the way to Ghana, West Africa."
Their goal is to build  the "Connor's Creative Art Center" in Ghana, West Africa. Here's a bit I've taken from the website to explain what "Go Team Ghana" is all about & how we can help"
"THE BAD NEWS: Modern day slavery exists.Nearly 7,000 children are being trafficked in the fishing industry of Lake Volta, Ghana. They are sold for the equivalent of $20.
THE GOOD NEWS: People care.
A Touch of LIfe (one of the organizations they're working with) has rescued nearly 100 of the 7,000 children. They have outgrown their facilities, and are building bigger, in order to help more kids.

Connor’s Song, inspired by the creativity and imagination of Connor Deal who passed at the age of 12, is working to bring healing to hurting children. The “Connor’s Creative Art Center” will be built in honor of Connor, and will help restore these children through art therapy and creative healing.

Why ART? Why for these kids?
Glad you asked.

These children are being empowered through the freedom of expression. They are learning, some for the first time, how to be kids and dream big. At one point in their lives, they were sold for the amount we pay for a few cups of coffee.

Please help us show these kids they are worth it!

All funds raised will go towards the following:
1) Fill a shipping container with furniture + supplies for the Art Center
2) Ship the 40' container with the supplies overseas to Ghana
3) Send the Design Team back to Ghana to help bring the Art Center to life

Thank you a million times over for showing your support.
We believe good design can change the world. "

I feel the same way about design & art being able to change the world.  Good "Design" is often thought of as a luxury or something "extra" that some people have...  But I believe it has the power to make people happy & to change their lives.  Our environments affect us in so many ways- they change our moods, our ideas of self-worth, they can encourage or discourage creativity, they can make us feel good or bad.  Giving these kids a place to go that gets them excited about creating things & dreaming is really special & affects them in so many more ways than just encouraging the arts.  I think it's a really special cause & if you have any time and/or want to help, go here:

They are at a little over $13,000 now and need $35,000.  Today's the last day if you have a moment.

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Instagram Room Reveals & Closing on Our New House!!

I was recently introduced to Instagram & am crazy about it!!!  For those of you who don't know what it is, it's an app that you can use on your phone where you take pictures with your phone and then upload them into instagram.  People "follow" you and you "follow" others to share the photos. 

I've been posting a bunch of photos on instagram, which has been so much fun...  I try to take pics whenever I come across something that's interesting or pretty to me, and lately I've been taking photos of some of our clients' projects on installation days as they come together & the room is revelaed picture by picture...  (I will usually save the full "after" for later though! :)

To follow me on instagram, go here or go to instagram and find me (I'm @LaurenLiess)  (Or check to the right sidebar of this blog and click on the little instagram icon (which is the little camera logo)& you should be able to see pics.)

{Our client's living room, midstage}

Also, we're closing on our new house today & we're sooooooo excited!!!!   We love love LOVE the house and I can't believe how quickly the time's flow by!!  Fingers crossed that all goes smoothly for us today.  We're so thankful to the homeowners for letting us buy their home!!  I'll keep you posted!!

{our future living room!!! }

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Home Remodeling - Keeping Costs Manageable

If you're planning to embark on a home remodeling project, you probably already have an idea of how much money you want to spend. No matter how prepared you might be, however, you could be surprised by how many things can go wrong. This is no reason to skip your project, of course, but it is a reason to investigate the ways you can keep costs manageable. Start by working with a contractor with a reputation for keeping jobs under budget. Once this is squared away, you can use these additional tips to put more money into your pocket.

Avoid Financing

If you don't have the money for your home remodeling project, consider waiting until you do to get started. While financing is an option if you have something that simply can't wait, how often is this really the case? By financing, you're placing yourself in debt and you are going to be paying back both interest and the principle. Depending on how long you take to pay back the loan, you could be paying much more for the project than you would have had you saved the money in advance.

Plan Carefully

The main reason many owners wind up paying much more for a home remodeling project than they should have is because they failed to plan properly. This not only adds to the cost of the project, but it can also cause it to last an abnormally long time. By planning carefully in advance, you can move through the job quickly and inexpensively. Part of proper planning means hiring a contractor who knows what they are doing and is going to dedicate their time to finishing your project before moving on to something else.

Buy Materials First

If you're doing your home remodeling project on your own, consider purchasing all of your materials ahead of time. If you wait until you get to the bathroom, for example, to buy the tile you need, you could run into problems. Maybe the tile you wanted is more expensive than you thought it would be. Maybe it isn't available in your area. You might need to change you plans all of a sudden, which could invalidate some of the choices you've made in other areas. If you buy everything ahead of time, you won't run into these issues later.

Home remodeling can be a fun and exciting project, adding immeasurably to the value of your home and the joy of living there. As long as you keep costs manageable, there's no reason why it can't be a fulfilling way to spend your money.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Garage Sale Scores--Scale, Birdcage and More

I really found some fun things at the garage sales this weekend--a  great old copper tub, a wooden box, a birdcage, a scale and some drill bits for my husband.

I was thrilled to find this old Wayrite scale.  But....the biggest bummer of the day was that a girl right before me grabbed the cutest rusty old blue scale.  And she paid $3 for it!!  I would've preferred to have not even seen it.  :)  But, I keep telling myself that I have LOTS of scales, so it was not for me this time....  And, this scale that I did find is very fun!

Here it is in the house with some other recent garage sale finds (and a bird feeder from HomeGoods).

This little birdcage caught my eye.  I didn't care for it in black, but figured I could paint it.

Now it's blue/green.

I love this old box!  It's a perfect size to hold lots and lots of magazines.

 My husband is in the process of cleaning up the copper tub.  I will post about it when it's all spiffed up. 
Thanks for your visit!


I am linking to the following parties:

My Little Lovey Guys...

The smallest one is growing big waaaaaaay too quickly.  If I can get some time, I'll take some pictures of his nurery before we say goodbye to it next week.  I really love it in there & I don't know how but we've somehow managed to keep it clean & organized these past few months, which has made it such relaxing space to hang.  (It could be that all of the laundry is in the mound in our bedroom?? ;)

The past couple of weeks have been sort of the-calm-before-the-storm part of the moving process, and so we've been trying to take advantage of it...

{Dave, reading with the boys}

{me, snuggling with the baby}
We're trying really hard to remind ourselves that it's these momemts that are still the most important, even in the midst of all of the house deadlines, paperwork & packing.  I don't want to rush any of this goodness away.  We'll forget the messy jumble of moving memories but these are the ones I want more of.   

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

A New Look in Levittown

Ever heard of Levittown, New York? For many, it’s just a hamlet located in Nassau County, somewhere between Hempstead and Farmingdale. In actuality, Levittown is, in many ways, considered a historic example of suburban planning; it is considered the first mass-produced suburb in America and is named after the father of the suburb, William Levitt. We were in this historic area recently, finishing up a massive home renovation. We completely revamped an attic and turned it into a living space, with shelves and a rather large closet. We also completely redid the stairs and living room, which got brand new walls and a paint job, as well as a brand new ceiling fan and light fixture.  We’re still finishing up some smaller projects in the home but we thought we’d give you a sneak peek at how we made this ordinary suburban home into something unique for our customers. Enjoy!



Saturday, August 25, 2012

Reluctantly Accepting that Summer is Ending

I love summer.  I love everything about summer.  I'm probably one of the few people who doesn't eagerly anticipate fall's arrival.  Yes, I enjoy the coziness of fall and love to watch football, but I know that soon after fall comes snowy, non-gardening winter.  :)

It usually takes me awhile to buy fall flowers, as my summer flowers are generally still doing well.  Unfortunately, if I wait until my summer flowers look horrible, it's too late to get fall flowers.  Oh the dilemma.  haha
(Full disclosure here--this was the pot at its prettiest a few weeks ago.  It did not look this good yesterday when I pulled all of the flowers...)

 I love the Wave Petunias and Cosmos in here.  I will definitely be planting Wave Petunias in all of my pots next spring.  They get huge!

 This and the next two pictures are right after I planted the pots in May. 

And now I have Mums.  The plants I bought were so big (thank you Costco!) that I wasn't able to fit anything else around the edges.  Maybe a simple planting is perfect for now.

Thanks for visiting! 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Home Improvement In London

Our high levels of repeat business and referrals are down tothe fact that we are London builders who reallydo care. For a basement refurbishment london, basement waterproofing london or whole new build contact OID-Building Services for a quote. and stress free for our customers wanting basement flat build in London or a simple basement refurbishment in london. Overbury, office refurbishment, office refurbishment UK, office refurbishment London. We offer complete refurbishment packages for large facilities such as schools and colleges, health clubs, hospitals and hotels.

The fact is that home improvement is one of the largest growth areas in our economy today. The most common home improvement is either a conservatory, extension or a loft conversion built onto our homes in balance with our disposable income. Therefore, to keep a firm rein on these developments; planning requirements are getting tighter to ensure that the type of home improvement is in keeping with the surrounding houses and neighbourhood. Your home is an expression of who you are and if you walk out each of a place that you does not seem to belong to you then probably your home needs improvement. You are probably guessing how you are going to make the payments for your home improvement. Home improvement loans will provide you with a dependable groundwork to build on the home you have a vision of. Home improvement is predominantly triggered by the desire to own a comfortable home. Home improvement can be slightly difficult, if your financial position is tight. 

Savings or revolving credits like credit or store cards generally pay the cost of home improvements. The ever-expanding mortgage market gives you an opportunity to apply for a mortgage for home improvements and that too in the most uncomplicated manner. More and more homeowners are administering for remortgage to raise capital for home improvements. Contrary to accepted conviction home improvements are vital and absolutely necessary. Home improvements improve the quality of life.
Home improvement loans are available for double glazing, new conservatory, heating system, new kitchen, rewiring and plumbing or any home remodeling that you can think of. Home improvement doesn't have to be major before it becomes worthwhile; smaller projects, like refitting the kitchen or bathroom or new double glazed windows can add significant value to your home. Whether you are looking for a contractor to remodel your kitchen or bathroom, just a simply maid service or anything in between, we can help you with it all. We specialise in all kinds of refurbishment (both interior and exterior) such as loft conversions, house extensions, cellars, bathrooms, kitchens, carpentry, plumbing, electrics, demolition, plastering, tiling, and painting to an exceptional standard.

With our wealth of knowledge and expertise we are able to offer a professional competitive service, ranging from soft floor installations, the manufacture and supply of furniture to the complete refurbishment package. We also carry out routine maintenance work from a simple cloth stretch to complete refurbishment of capping's, rubbers, nets and leathers etc. So if you are considering anything from a repair or redecoration of a room to a complete refurbishment of your property, I can provide a professional, friendly and reliable service. We can offer a wide range of repairs and improvements for your guitar, from a simple set-up to a complete refurbishment or customisation. We offer a complete refurbishment service to ensure you get the most from your investment. Complete Refurbishments covering complete property refurbishments from concept to completion. 

Give You Furniture an Easy Makeover

Tired or worn out furniture can bring down the look of your room. Even if your furniture is in quite a good condition, if it doesn't fit in with the style of the rest of your home or it is just a plain item with no colour or character, it can look out of place.

It's easier than you think to liven up furniture and add your personality to it, and this can instantly give your room a lift. Here are some tips for "upcycling" old furniture or simply giving a boring item a makeover.

·         Painting is the most obvious way to give a piece of furniture a new lease of life. It's particularly easy with wooden furniture like oak. Get a better finish by sanding the wood to get rid of rough patches. You might need to prime it as well if the wood is bare and untreated – this will vary depending on the wood so do a quick bit of research. Use waterbased paint as this dries quite quickly and doesn't smell as bad as oil paints.  If you're feeling creative you can paint patterns, or just paint certain parts, for example the fronts of drawers, or paint two clashing colours. If you want to create a "shabby chic" look simply rub a candle on corners and edges and then sand these parts when the paint's dry. You'll give it an instantly aged effect.
          Decoupage might look tricky, but it is really just something that requires time rather than skill. Get a load of old magazines and cut out images or bits of colour. You'll need to use varnish to stick them onto the furniture with a paint brush, but you can be really creative and just stick as you feel like it, to create something really personalised and funky. You could use pictures with a theme, like cakes for a kitchen table, or just random pictures to create a new pattern.
      If you want to do something really dramatic and stylish and feel that rustic furniture isn't really for you (and you don't mind potentially incurring 7 years bad luck) get a cheap mirror and smash it. Do this safely, on a controlled surface, and make sure you thoroughly clean the area afterwards to get rid of little pieces of broken glass. Using a strong adhesive to fix the broken pieces of mirror onto a flat surface like a wardrobe door will give a modern and eye catching design, which will play with the light in interesting ways.
      If you are brave enough to re-upholster furniture, then you can use your own fabric. You could patchwork pieces together, or embroider some material to give the furniture your own style and make it unique.

Remember, the most important thing is to have fun and create something unique to you which you can treasure.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Finding Large Scale Botanical Prints

So, as you may have noticed, I have a thing for botanicals.  Small-scale botanicals are fairly easy to find- in books, on etsy, ebay, calendars, flea markets, antique shops, etc. (they're usually all bookplates or copies of bookplates so the size is no larger than the book) but large-scale botanicals aren't always as easy to come by. 
{Reproduction Cowslip & anemone botanical charts in our family room by The Evolution Store}
I've managed to get my hands on a few & when Erin @ The Impatient Gardener asked me where I'd found them, I thought I'd share some of my sources in a post.   (I hope you won't think I'm a one-trick pony when you see how many botanicals I've used in projects!!  I just have a serious passion for them!! ;)   The reproduction German education charts in my family room (above) are from The Evolution Store.    They have a wide (and gorgeous!)selection of botanicals, and in particular, a lot with black backgrounds, which are higher-contrast and feel bolder and more modern than those with light backgrounds.   I wanted my charts quickly & I needed a  pair, so going vintage wasn't really an option for me this time.  When I got the charts, I spent some time beating them up- I roughed up the edges a little and rolled and unrolled them a bunch, wrinkling them- so they'd more resemble my vintage ones.  I also splurged for the wooden dowels vs. the plastic dowels.  (ps- it's ridiculous that I spent all of this time making my new charts look old when I'm so careful & gentle with my old ones. hahaha  irony.)
The charts can be hung on nails like mine (above) or framed like these:
 {Room by S. Gambrel and the botanicals look like framed charts to me....  The Evolution Store carries all of these exact prints.}
The vintage botanical chart that sparked this post (below) is in my laundry room.  I found it at an antique store.  Any time I see rolled up vintage educational charts in a store, I go digging.  I unroll every single one and buy all of the ones that I love.  I keep them until the right project comes along. 
...And it always does. 
I found the mushroom chart in my middle son's nursery (below) at German Favorite Antiques, a local antique store in Leesburg, Virginia.  They have a nice selection of charts, though most that I've seen in the past are industrial / machine parts charts. 
Some of my favorite overscale botanicals are actual pressed botanicals or copies of actual pressed botanicals.  If you plan on buying actual pressed overscale botanicals, then get your wallet ready for it because they're not cheap (but OH MY GOSH THEY ARE BEAUTIFUL & I looooooooove them & do think it's worth the splurge if it's something you're passionate about...  Did you just hear me give myself an excuse to get one some day?? ;) ;))  BUT, there are a few posters around of overscale pressed botanicals. carries these ginko leaves and they are so perfect:
Actual pressed plants will eventually fade over time whereas copies of the plants won't.
I wanted to do something similar but a little more personal for some clients of ours so, their kids & I went outside & found some pretty leaves from their back yard (from tulip trees.)  I took the leaves home and laid them out on my scanner and scanned them in.  Then I sent the images to an online company to have them blown up and printed on stretched canvas.  (below)
I came across this botanical (below) out at the Old Lucketts Store in Leesburg and I think it's a framed chart of a marsh marigold.

I found these two prints for a client's dining room (below) at Natural Curiosities, whose art work I love.  They purchase & acquire the rights to antique & vintage prints and reproduce them, often in large scale.  Everything from Natural Curiosities is even better in person than in photos because they "age" their papers and try to painstakingly replicate the originals. 


...Another great source for overscale botanicals (mostly charts) is etsy.  There are sellers selling actual vintage charts & there are a bunch selling new charts in the vintage style.  (Many of the new educational charts are actually being made on the very same machines that the originals were made on...  they are just 2012 versions of the originals, kind of like reprinting of books.  The vintage charts found online are typically more expensive than the new ones.)  It's sometimes hard to tell if a seller is selling vintage charts or reproductions so be sure to ask if  you're unsure. 

Anyway, I'm off for the day, but have a great one!!

ps- My blog was recently redone by my blog friend Carolyn V of Life in Graz Pittsburg & she is amazing!!!!  I've had such a great experience with her and you need to check out her adorable nursery!!!  (for her brand new baby, Alexander!!!)  Also, my other talented blog friend, Emily Thompson of Indie Shopography, did my online store ( and she is awesome too!!  I can't recommend both of them enough!!

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Our Laundry Room & Some Goodness

Since we're leaving so soon (we close in 8 days & move soon after!) I thought I'd share a few before & afters of some of the few spaces in my house that I haven't taken a million photos of.  Today it's the laundry room & I've never taken "after" photos of it because it's never been neat enough to take pics of.  oh well. 

Enter staging your home to sell and it gets there.  (We left our house with laundry the day of our open house!!)  SO I've been enjoying it for the past few weeks :)

Here's what it looked like when we moved in 3 years ago...

We didn't really change much at all.  I added curtains & a jute rug & some storage pieces.  I was proud of myself for making the little cafe curtains out of a ferny fabric.  They remind me of something my Grandma Maestranzi would have made for her lake cottage.

  I hung a botanical chart over the washer & dryer to hide the electrical box, which made the bggest difference to me:

Before the open house I had a glass collection on the countertop but I packed it all up and switched it with a laundry basket.

{My little bird print left too}

The shelves are filled with random things...

{wrapping paper & potting stuff}

My laundry is pretty much caught up (but it's the FOLDING OF CLEAN LAUNDRY (!!!)  that we're behind on.)

{see how empty this thing is??  You should see my bedroom though!! argggg}

... About a week ago I received a beautiful package in the mail from Gracious Style full of laundry goodies by Le Blanc & The Laundress.  Let me start by saying I don't like doing laundry. 

At all. 

 I have the strongest sense of smell though & I am for real when I say that I've actually kind of enjoyed doing laundry since I've gotten my goodies. 

The packaging is so pretty and the SMELLS-  OH MY!!!!!!!!

{LeBlanc Linenpress...  haven't used it yet.  Sadly, I rarely iron.}

The SMELL of the LeBlanc stuff is HEAVEN!!!!! Just sooooo good!!!! It's crazy.

They sent the Blue Violet scent and I am totally loving it!!!  The dryer sachet (not sure if that's the right name!!  good for 16 washes) is CRAZY.  My laundry smells sooooo good & I can't stop going in there to take whiffs!!!  (It's right near my office) 

I also sprayed some of this (below) on the things that I'd hung to dry for more goodness:

And I poured some of this in with my regular detergent:

 I can't believe what a difference all the goodies have made so far in my once-dreaded chore!!!  I am not just saying this...  This stuff is crazy good.  I'm scared I'm addicted and won't be able to go back to the regular stuff.  I think it's going to have to go on my Christmas wishlist.
Thanks so much to Gracious Style for letting me try out these yummy products!!  To get some of your own, go here
...But I still need a little elf to come fold at night while we're sleeping...

ps-  I normally shy away from doing any sort of product reviews because it usually feels like homework and I don't want to have to worry about writing a review of something I don't like, but I'd been wanting to try some different laundry products for a while now so I said yes.  So glad I did!!

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.