Tuesday, January 17, 2017

How to Pick Paint Colors: Magazines vs Real Life

 Color: Benjamin Moore Aura in Woodlawn Blue #HC 147
Picking wall colors can be daunting, and the best way to find a good one
can be locating a color from an online image or a magazine, but then you must
follow through and get a sample of the color to put on your own walls.
The reason is that magazines can saturate or lighten up actual results and the 
color will be very different than the one you admired.
Often asked questions on my blog are about my own wall colors.
They want to know the name and brand of the paint I use for certain rooms.
Our living room was painted a year ago in Woodlawn Blue.
  This blue has a bit of green to it, and its such a pretty color.  
Things that are more blue make the walls look green,
and things in the room that have more green make the walls look blue.  
The color will be darker when it is cloudy outside or at nighttime. 
The blue will vary on each wall, depending upon the lighting.
My camera may lighten up the color too, depending upon the setting
I use, but this color is pretty much how I think it looks, at least on my screen.
But take a look at how it looks in the current issue of Romantic Country magazine.
Its more aqua, and every color in the room is more intensified, from the 
pinks to all of the blues.  The blue wall here is more aqua than this color really is,
so never pick a color from a magazine photo without testing it first.
 That being said, I love love love this blue paint!
Color: Benjamin Moore Regal in Natural Elements #1515 
Our dining room walls are a taupe color that has a warm tone.  
Some taupes and greys are cool, and some are warm. 
 I have not tired of this neutral color one bit. 
The woodwork is White Dove by BM.
 This bench is in the dining room, and so the wall color 
is the same as the rest of the room.
It is a nice neutral, very light and it appears to go with everything.
 This is the same bench and wall in Romantic Country magazine. 
 The day of the shoot it was so gloomy and 
so lighting was used to simulate daylight. 
Notice how the wall color looks to have a green undertone. 
 My hallways all have the same color, Natural Elements, with White Dove trim.
Using one neutral color will unify the spaces when you have open spaces.
When I painted the living room walls blue, I had to pick an ending point for the
blue color, and you can see right there in the corner by the door how it looks. 
 Benjamin Moore Natural Elements #1515 in matte finish
 Behr paint from Home Depot in Contemplation
Our bedroom was the most "styled room" in the photo shoot for Romantic Country,
as you will see below.  But here it is as we normally have it, mostly blue and white. 
The wall color is also another pretty blue with a green tone.  
Romantic Country Magazine image shows the walls to be more intensified.
So when you love a wall color in a magazine, beware!
Benjamin Moore Aura Spa in Simply White
Our master bathroom's walls are in last year's Color of the Year 
by Benjamin Moore.  I used Aura Spa on recommendation of my paint 
guy at the local paint shop and I hated this paint.  It is supposed to have a 
built in agent to resist mold and mildew, which we really did not have any 
issues with anyway.  What I found was that I needed three coats to cover 
the beige paint that was on the walls, so the effort was incredible to just paint
the walls white.  Next time I would use plain Aura (as it has no VOCs) and
I think it would have been two coats to do what took three here.
But I digress, as we are talking about how paint colors differ from images
found in magazines and in real life.
Can white look different in a magazine?
The Romantic Country magazine image has lightened everything up and 
all of the colors are intensified, and the white looks brighter.
I do love the color, Simply White.  My woodwork is White Dove.
The bathroom cabinet is the same as the wall color
 in the bedroom, Behr Contemplation.
Picking out samples from a paint store can be the most difficult thing to do,
and my recommendation is to pick what you are attracted to, then dial it down
and select a color similar but a lot lighter and a bit muddier.  It will look
more sophisticated instead of something that came out of a crayola color box.
Benjamin Moore Aura paint, Basil Green #2029-10, matte finish
Unless that is what you are going for, lol!
My son, Brandon, an artist from Los Angeles, picked this color out.
Turned out a month later Pantone picked a similar color 
as the color of the year for 2017.
This color has more yellow in it, than our green does.
I would have gone with a color that was more subdued and darker, 
but in the end it is a very fun color and everyone loves it.  
It "needs" things on the wall to balance it out, 
and the black and white is a great neutralizer to its boldness.
When Fifi O'Neill arrived for the shoot, she looked at the tv room 
and said, "oh we won't be shooting this room, it is not romantic at all".
That made me laugh, and of course it is true.  It would have taken 
a flower cart filled to the brim to bring romance to that space.


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Monday, January 9, 2017

Signature Swedish Style: A visit with Designer Sandra Kelly

 I first learned about Swedish style maven Sandra Kelly at Brimfield, last May,
when my son and I set up our own booth at the Brimfield Antique Fair.
 Sandy's style was unmistakable and never did I think in just a few months
 I would be visiting her home with Matthew Mead for a photo shoot.
Sandy styled her booth with a sense of beauty and order.
 Sandy had some art panels done by a favorite artist, Jennifer Lanne of New York,
 who also had a booth at the May Brimfield show.  You will see some of these pieces 
in the interview video at Sandy's home, so keep your eyes open. 
I fell head over heels for the painted french chairs, and the overall atmosphere of her magical booth.
Fast forward to our visit in a few months.  Her home would be just as enchanting! After the shoot, we set up our video cam and shot a Q and A with Sandy about her signature Swedish style.  We hope you enjoy this interview at Sandy's beautiful country home.  Her home is also featured in Matthew's current issue of Upstyled Home, the winter edition, on newsstands now.  Enjoy!

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

2016 Top Blog Posts: French and DIY with One Runaway Hit


The start of this New Year at Maison Decor Blog  has me looking back at what my readers seemed to find most interesting.  Sometimes surprising, but this past year underscores that my DIY projects combined with a French flavor seem to bring the most views.  And I am happy about that, because those are two things that I consider a big part of who I am and what I love to do.  
Home and Garden projects that cultivate my love for the French style makes me a happy girl indeed.  
So lets take a look at the posts that everyone seemed to love, and that perhaps you may have missed.
This was a huge project and it was hands down my favorite!  Taking a dumpy unused space behind our home and making it a family favorite was really not that hard to do.  It took vision, more than anything, and some persuasion to get hubs to help me moving stones.  But stones aside,  I hope it gives you the idea to take a second look around your home's property to see what spot you could do a makeover on to gain a well loved and used space.
The before and after are quite startling, aren't they?  
Not taken from the same vantage point, but both showing the back facade of our home.
  Where the single window is, in the before shot, now stands the French doors.
 And the rest flowed from there.  The most important single element to creating this 
French style courtyard was using pea gravel as a base to create the French style outdoor space.
  Look for this courtyard to be featured in Matthew Mead's Spring issue of Upstyled Home, 
coming in March 2017.  I have seen the preview, and I have to say I was totally blown away
 by this feature and the other gardens Matthew has for this issue. 
 I CANNOT wait for you all to see this issue!!!
This DIY post on how to make easy labels was another hit.  I love easy projects, and this one fits the bill.  Most of us have these battery operated pillar candles, and I personalized mine using a simple method that took a few minutes, using my printer and some packing tape.  After the candles, I did the lantern itself.  This method works great on glass or plain surfaces.  
Look how pretty it looked at Christmas! 
It would be awesome to make stamps personalized with names or monograms for weddings or showers or birthdays.....you get the idea.  I guess people like doing easy projects, just like I do. 
This was another DIY garden project that I was very proud to finish.
The garden shed was created using a dilapidated structure, and then I shingled it with
the help of my son.  Never having done anything like this before, it was very fun
and although we may have not done it according to the "rules", it is a sturdy 
attractive feature to our back yard. 
I think the French door I found on Craiglist and added to the front gave it big time curb appeal.  
You can read more about the shed in the first post I am sharing above about the Courtyard.
This painted daybed was part of an antique bed set that 
I had in my possession when I operated my shop.  
All pieces sold, except for the tea table which I kept for myself.  
Readers, like myself, seem to love beautiful French style antiques!
This charming painted table has made it's way into the
 current issue of Romantic Country magazine!
I had moved it from the living room up to my bedroom, where it is today. 
For a behind the magazine shoot story, here you go: 
Funny thing is, I sleep on the other side of the
bed, and that is where the table sits, under the window.  So for the shoot, Fifi O'Neill
moved the bed to hubby's side so it would make for a pretty picture.  And then she piled
up any pink and floral linens I had on the bed, and as they say, the rest is history!
(P.S. You can buy the Spring 2017 Romantic Country mag
where ever magazines are sold, so go get one!)
My living room is featured on the current cover, and inside you will see the 
rest of our home.  Some of these rooms have not been seen in the blog, so don't miss it!
And last, but not least, was this post that turned out to be a mega-hit as far as 
my statistics are concerned.  I was shocked at how many people read this post.
At least five times more than my most popular post, the biggest post of the year
was this tutorial I wrote on how to upholster a French chair.
My first attempt at reupholstering is captured step by step as I tried to 
show how you can do it the easy way.  Have I said I like things that are easy?
Yup, it was pretty easy, although nontraditional, I am pleased to say it is almost a year
since I have done it and the chair looks just as good the day I finished it.
So that is my 2016 round up for popular blog posts.
Just a mix of French with DIY and that is me, in a nutshell.


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Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas Memory Making and a Swedish Bread Recipe

 Christmas 2016 was finally upon us, and this year I was more than ready.
Now I can devote my full attention to every detail, and its certainly something I enjoy.
Our family is growing and adding daugter-in-laws, which means sometimes switching things
up a bit, and so our Christmas Eve is now celebrated on the Eve of the Eve.  
The house and the trees were decorated and lit and it never looked prettier.
Adding daughter in laws?  My son, Brandon, is engaged to his long time love, Mimi!
They live in Los Angeles but this photo was taken at our house a few years ago.
I couldn't be more excited!  (Trying to lure them back to the East Coast as well.)
So while Mimi and Brandon couldn't join us this year, we hope that will change.
 Colby was content to lie in front of the fire or in front of the tree when
he got too hot.  Visions of sugar plums danced in his head!  
I always loved that verse, although I never quite knew what a sugar plum
was, it sounded magical to me.
 Following our Christmas eve tradition, the table was set with English Crackers for all.  A new addition to my table were the large monogramed French napkins I bought from one of my favorite French dealers.  These linen napkins are as big as dish towels, and they feel wonderful!
 The crackers have crowns in shiny gold and festive red paper and this set had musical horns and a set of sheet music with each of us blowing a different note at our conductors command, played by my son Justin.  It brought many laughs and we as an orchestra got better with each tune.  Then we sang songs from the caroling books I made, and it made for a jolly time around the dinner table.
After dinner we ate pastries while this charming film was played in the
green room.  Have you seen it?  Made in 1982, it was one of my children's favorite
holiday movies, and I highly recommend it.  Its so wonderful!
I purchased it from our cable tv for less than ten dollars, and it made
for a sweet way to finish out the evening.
 The morning brought Christmas Eve day, and a bit of a mess to cleanup.
I love looking at a dinner table after a party....
it tells a story, and this one was all good.
 Then Christmas morning came and it was nice and mellow, with Colby and I the first by the tree.
My new book is a winner!! If you love French interiors, 
this  beautiful picture book by Veranda  has some beauties.
The day followed with presents and a trip to New Hampshire to my 
brother-in-law's home for a big family gathering on my husbands side,
and another engagement announced for his son, Matthew and gf Sarah! 
Nothing more romantic than a Christmas Eve proposal under the stars!!
 One special gift from Santa to me, was this Oyster bread maker. 
I always thought bread makers were pricey appliances, but this one had
great reviews and cost $60.  Well worth it, in my opinion. 
(no, I am not sponsored in this post.)
 I have always wanted to make Swedish coffee bread for my husband and his mother. 
 They have enjoyed it for their entire lives as it has been a recipe made by
 previous generations and finally I gave it a go!  Swedish coffee bread, 
or Cardamom bread as some call it is a bread that is often enjoyed
 with coffee and its just delicious!
 The dough is mixed up in the bread maker, and after it goes through
 two rising cycles you put the dough out onto a floured board and 
divide into sections so you can braid into a pair of loaves.
 My first loaves were a GIGANTIC success!! hahha! I did it!  
I made Swedish Coffee Bread, and my mother in law said it was perfect, 
so it doesn't get better than that. 
Here is our old family recipe, from cousin Bob Johnson.
If you have a bread maker and want to give it a whirl, you
will be delighted at the outcome.  Merry Christmas to you all,
my blog friends and readers!  
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Monday, December 19, 2016

Make a Christmas Carol Songbook


A Christmas tradition for many is caroling, or at least it used to be.
 Have you ever had the fun of going out caroling at Christmas time?
When I was in my early teens a group of neighbors did that and it was such
fun and really put you in the holiday spirit. Its such an old fashioned thing to 
do and has such tradition, two things that seem to make it a good thing this time of year.
We all had tiny songbooks to follow along to make sure we knew the words to 
each Christmas carol.  If you want to create a songbook, you can do what I 
did last night.  Martha Stewart (of course!) has an easy to make songbook
for Christmas Carols on her website.  The link to the Songbook will be at 
the end of this brief post, if you are interested in creating one for yourself.
The reason I came to search for "how to make a caroling songbook" was because of
 my mother in law, Claire.  She loves music!  
Above you can see us all dressed up to enjoy the 
Boston Holiday Pops orchestra, with their wonderful Christmas program.  
Music is such a nice part of Christmas. 
 The Boston Pops at Symphony Hall
Boston Symphony Hall, decked out for their Holiday Pops show.
Just yesterday, Claire asked if we could sing some carols at our Christmas party.  
I know that her own traditions of celebrating had her aunts and uncles and parents 
and children all gathered around a piano on Christmas eve and there they sang 
Christmas Carols. Its easy to picture that scene, isn't it?  
Claire herself played the violin and the cello, 
and her father was a piano tuner, so musical ability ran deep in this family. 
 While I can't play more than chopsticks on the piano, I can belt out a carol or two.  

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