When we first bought our new (old) house, I was certain we would demo the fireplace before we even moved in. Not so fast…turns out this thing is here to stay. So, as with all design dilemmas, we decided to paint it white. We saved both time and money and we’ve never looked back. My favorite white paint is always Benjamin Moore’s Cloud White. It’s a white that looks great in any light. This paint covers well and it can easily be spot cleaned. We removed the existing mantel and replaced it with this one. (We opted to have a free floating look rather than use the brackets). To soften the look of all that stone I used our favorite cozy pillows from Pottery Barn. The pillows on the leather chairs are also from Pottery Barn and are a soft washed velvet. We found the mirror at a restaurant in Lewisburg, PA where our daughter attends Bucknell. I think this one would look great too! The grain sack Christmas stockings are new this year from an Etsy Shop. See below for an updated version of how we painted our stone fireplace.
Update on painting a stone fireplace and maintenance: When I first posted about painting our fireplace I indicated that I planned on re-painitng it every year. I did this at first because I thought it really needed it. However, this last time I used Benjamin Moore’s Aura paint. I used my favorite white paint color, Cloud White. It’s expensive, but I think it’s worth the price. You can easily spot clean and it touches up beautifully.
My original post on painting a stone or brick fireplace is my most viewed post and the one that I get the most emails about. A lot of people mentioned they were not crazy about the idea of re-painting every year. Please mark your paint cans…that may have been the problem. When I touched up the first time, I used a slightly different finish. Same color (white cloud), but different finish which meant I needed to re-paint the entire fireplace. So don’t be like me, mark that paint can!
If you are just starting this project, I asked the guys at my local Home Depot about a primer. They suggested Kilz. I would use a wire brush to loosen any debris and then if possible vacuum the entire surface getting in the crevices and corners. Put a couple of coats of primer and then a coat (or two) of the Aura paint. Use an old paint brush because it will ruin a good one. Everything is water-based so it’s pretty easy for clean-up. Good luck and I love seeing your before and after photos!
There’s a few things I do to get our front porch ready for winter and the holiday season. I like to keep it looking nice, but with snowy weather it takes a little planning and maintenance to keep it that way. The first thing I do is fill the pots with boxwoods and fresh greens that will look fresh all through winter. I keep the mat, but under it and all the way to the top step, I add a rug runner. The front porch gets extremely slick in the wet winter weather, but this keeps it safe and still looks fairly neat and tidy. I keep a galvanized bucket with a lid filled with ice-melt and a big scoop so that I can easily get the icy steps safe before anyone even takes one step outdoors. I also replace the Edison bulbs in the lanterns with a higher wattage since it gets dark so early. To keep the porch looking tidy I use a battery operated leaf blower to get rid of any left over dirt and and sand that’s tracked up from the street. This one is lightweight and and easy enough to use everyday. Everything gets dirty in the winter months, but this helps keep it out of the house and off the porch. I use Sprayway window cleaner and then use a water-based Sharpie to write messages on our front door and I found these pillows at H&M to dress up the front porch for the holidays. Oh and one more thing….IF I had a wood burning fireplace, this steel log holder would be hard to pass up to store wood and kindling on the front porch in a very stylish way. Winter officially begins in less than three weeks, so let’s do this!
When J.McLaughlin asked me to do a lifestyle post that would include a few beautiful pieces from their holiday line….well of course I said yes! I’ve always known about J.McLaughlin because they have a shop in my own town of New Canaan, Connecticut. They originally started in New York on the Upper East Side back in 1977. They have grown to over 100 stores and each has its own character which is often seen in the delightful sketches of my dear friend Patrica van Essche. I was invited to visit the beautiful Greenwich store. The Greenwich store is large and besides stocking almost every item that is also available on their website, the shop is stunning. Even the dressing rooms are beautiful with nice lighting and space that makes you feel as though you are in the comfort of your own home….except there’s someone right outside helping you with sizes and styles. I chose clothing with a holiday brunch at home in mind. My husband and I love to plan get togethers and part of the planning always includes a trip to the Union Square Green Market.
I’m wearing the Langley Vest and the Savannah Shirt in plaid. The shirt is tailored beautifully with a fitted shape so it’s flattering on its own or under a vest or sweater. I’ve worn it so many times. It barely even needs ironing. (In fact I usually wash it and hang it to dry and wear it the next day). The vest is comfortable and I love the pockets, especially at the market. I wear it on its own or under a sweater or coat for an extra layer.
I’m greeting my guests wearing the Ryann Cardigan Sweater in Camel. It’s the perfect combination of a structured piece, but still soft and comfortable. Under the cardigan I’m wearing the perfect white blouse. I love a white blouse and the Briar Shirt in Swiss Dot has enough detail to wear with a sweater or on its own. The Becca Leggings have become my go to pant for everyday and are perfect for travel.
#makingitmerry at brunch!
This post made possible in product trade with J.McLaughlin. All words and opinions are completely my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Most Lovely Things!
So if you know me at all, you know that Madeline is studying abroad and will be home in time for Christmas. This weekend while my husband is visiting her in France, I’m sort of re-doing her room. Madeline never really liked that I chose pink for her sunroom door and the collage wall was always sort of a mess. (You can see it here) After talking to Madeline about what she wants to see in her room, I went to work. Since it’s her room, I completelymostly kept everything, but just sort of re-arranged it. She wanted everything to be neutral. Really?
The “M” is from Anthropologie and even her Tory Burch and Rebecca Minkoff bags color coordinate to her new neutral room.In a small room, everything has to have double duty. The armoire is from Ikea and we used fabric on the glass doors to hide her stacks of sweaters. The hutch on the right is from Room and Board and she also wanted fabric on the doors to hide all sorts of things from makeup to chargers. I used trays from Terrain for everything from her perfume to her supplies on her desk.
These shelves would have given anyone a headache. I simply took everything off and started to put it all back by color. The Literary art prints on each side of the televsion are from Obvious State.
We use Edison style light bulbs like this one exposed and in lamps and pendants because of the nice warm glow they provide.
Faux Sheepskin pillow covers and throws from Pottery Barn make it cozy and comfortable. I have at least eight of these pillows around our house and they are so soft. Every sunroom needs at least one big plant. I splurged on this one from Terrain. The marble top twig table has been in every room of our house and only recently ended up in her sunroom. I hope she loves all the little changes!
When we purchased this house Madeline and I never even saw it until we relocated from Southern California. Her room in our California house was also a little suite, so you can imagine how thrilled I was that she would again have an extra little room. Here’s a link to her California suite.
I have created an advent calendar for the last six years. I almost didn’t make one this year because Madeline is away, my kids are big kids, and I thought I was out of fresh ideas. Then I happened to take a pass through the dollar section at Target and was immediately inspired and decided to make one and give one!
I’ve displayed our advent calendar all over the house, but this year the red and white checked bags on the black and white stairway with a few sprigs of fresh boxwood was just too easy to pass up. I recently “met” Amanda (@smallacornsamanda) who started the hashtag #botanicalforagersunitedsocietyinc She uses foraged botanicals all over her house and her shop. Did I mention her shop is is New Zealand? I’m dying to visit Small Acorns, but for now I’ll just be inspired by Amanda –even though our seasons are complete opposites. She’s currently enjoying peonies while I have Juniper and boxwood.
This sweet little painting is an original by Kiki and Polly called “Winter Coats.”
I used small cloth bags in red and white check, (these would work too), a spool of twine and packages of chalkboard clothespins. It was just too simple to pass up and since everything was in the Dollar Section at my local Target store, the price was right. I also packaged one up in a box that I spray painted the inside gold and will be sending this to a dear friend. Are you making one this year?
Here’s a glimpse at our advent calendars for the last six years. There’s so many on Pinterest too!
When Uncommongoods asked me to check them out and look around their site to see if anything intrigued me….I thought, “well yes, a lot of things actually.” Uncommongoods has an interesting history with a vision that brings passionate artists and makers together with people who are just as passionate about the items they buy as those that make them. Buyers want to know the story behind the product and the maker. It started when founder Dave Bolotsky visited a craft fair at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. He saw all these people in one place with unique items and he saw the demand for these products. Many artists had to travel great distances to be there. So why not bring this idea to an online marketplace where artists and makers could connect with customers who are looking for unique or uncommon goods? There’s a lot more to this story and you can read more right here.
There are so many great products to choose from, but this Reclaimed Wood Cookbook Stand was perfect. One look and I was sold, but then reading about the maker and what goes into each piece, makes me love it even more. It’s made from reclaimed wood and a sturdy metal holder that’s thick enough to hold any cookbook. I have it sitting on my marble top kitchen island holding a new current cookbook. The book will rotate every few days or weeks, but the cookbook holder has become a permanent fixture on my island. It adds the perfect amount of rustic charm while still being completely useful. My kitchen is way too small and I am way too practical to have something that does not serve a purpose or function. It also holds my iPad beautifully when I need to use a recipe from online!
I made this Ratatouille from the Buvette cookbook so that I would have something to show off the beautiful cookbook stand…and I highly recommend it! It was delicious!
Here’s a few things that caught my eye for everyone on my list:
This old school Penny Hockey Game proves that sometimes you don’t need electronics to have fun.
How cute would these Gummy Bear Lights be on a child’s bedside table or on a shelf in a nursery?
Everyday I am inspired by my surroundings…nature, architecture, things I read, see on the streets, etc…Pinterest is also a huge source of inspirtaion…everything, but when I really think about the one person who inspired my love of design, it’s Mrs. White. Mrs. White was the mother of my best friend in the second grade and she has no idea that she has inspired me. Susy, my sister and I were the best of friends from the time we moved to Denver until middle school when we grew apart. But Mrs. White’s style left an imprint on my own. She was from the south and was the most elegant woman I had ever met. She wore gloves to protect her perfectly manicured hands when she did the dishes, she wore impeccable clothes and drove a BMW when most moms drove station wagons. She had the most beautiful penmanship. This is what I remember about her house. It had dark hardwood floors at a time when wall to wall shag was the “in” thing. The dining room consisted of a light gray lacquered parsons table with beautiful Thonet bentwood chairs. I recall going along on a shopping trip to look for grosgrain ribbons to match the velvet jewel toned cushions. She had the brick on her fireplace painted white and the inside painted black. Something I continue to replicate as close as possible in all of our homes. She had a little arrangement of art cards neatly attached to assorted colors of wool felt and they were hung on small wall in the living room. She loved daisies and had an inspiration board long before anyone called it that. It was behind her yellow wrought iron bakers rack in her kitchen. She wrote notes and pinned them to the board along with photos and cards. She was a woman way ahead of her time. This was 1970. So thank you Mrs. White for inspiring me for all these years to love design and to pay attention to the little details…..because they add up. Who has inspired you?
Whenever I add something to my inspiration board, I think of Mrs. White, and for that, I am grateful.
Last month I had the opportunity to meet artist, illustrator Jeanne McKay Hartmann. I met her through another friend, artist, illustator Patrica van Essche. I can see why they are good friends. I feel so fortunate to have been in the company of these talented women. I was beyond touched when this popped up on instagram just a few hours after I posted our front porch. It astounds me how much detail Jeanne captures in her sketches. Like the leaves on the porch, the fact that the flag is not quite long enough for the glass door. ….I love that she notices everything! Thank you Jeanne for making our front porch your Daily Sketch – Day 310 today! I think she lives up to her caption…”Artist, illustrator, dreamer. Looking for the beauty in everyday life.” You can see more of her work on her instagram (idreamofjeanne) and her paintings are at Watson Kennedy in Seattle.
I’ve posted this recipe before, but I get a lot of emails asking “What do you do with the shallot confit?” Everything! Seriously, shallot confit makes everything better. On Monday we had sautéed green beans. Right before I took them out of the pan, I added a scoop of shallot confit….delicious. I’ll add them to a green salad every night or on a homemade pizza with a cheese like fontina. Today….I’m recreating a meal we had at Buvette in Paris. The first course was toasted or grilled whole grain bread with a thick smear of duck pate and on top, yes, shallot confit. I’m not sure what they call it in Paris, but it was so good.
Since I make this for the week, I use about 10 shallots, depending on size. I peel and then slice them pretty thin and put into a heavy pan. Add a glug or two of olive oil and stir for about 10 minutes until they are really soft. They will start to get golden in color….watch carefully at the point so they do not burn. Remove from the heat once they are golden and let rest in pan, cooking a little more in the hot pan and getting a little darker in color. Then just scoop them into a jar and let cool. Cover with an air tight lid and store in the refrigerator up to a week….if they last that long. Enjoy!