Christmas Holiday Project: Make Snowflakes for the Sandy Hook School

NB: See Comment below regarding closing of Sandy Hook Snowflake Project due to overwhelming response and consider the idea of creating a local wonderland as a sign of support.

     A friend passed along an email from the Newtown PTA/PTSA about a project that we can all work on when the kids are out of school for the Christmas holidays:

Dearest Newtown Families & Newtown School Staff,

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of you today. 

We know that our town is looking for a way to support Sandy Hook School and
all of Newtown in this hour of need. Your local PTA/PTSAs met on Sunday with
representatives from Connecticut PTSA with that goal in mind and this is the

“Let’s Give Sandy Hook School a Winter Wonderland”  
Snowflake Drive – Like our children, no two snowflakes are alike. We invite
you to create snowflakes to decorate Sandy Hook School’s new home. Be
creative! All colors and designs are welcome.  We know that children will
enjoy creating art that can adorn the walls of SHS’s new elementary school.
CT PTSA has been contacted from schools across the state and this is a
project we can all share. “Snowflake” drop boxes will be available at all
schools or can be mailed to: Connecticut PTSA, 60 Connolly Parkway, Building
12, Suite 103, Hamden, CT 06514, by January 12, 2013.

“Newtown Teachers & Staff, We Love You”
Teacher & Staff Appreciation Luncheons – Newtown public schools will host
potluck lunches district-wide on Friday as a sign of appreciation for our
teachers and staff.  We will also provide a catered lunch for the staff at
Central Office. Stay tuned for details from your individual schools.

“What Else Can We do?”

Sandy Hook School Fund — Many people are looking to help by making a
donation. Please be cautious before contributing money and make sure the
fund is legitimate. With the help of CT PTSA, we have created the “Sandy
Hook School Fund” and donations will be accepted through CTPTA.ORG. You can
pay online or send a check to Connecticut PTSA, 60 Connolly Parkway,
Building 12, Suite 103, Hamden, CT 06514 (if online contributing is made
available, we will let you know).  No fees are charged and all monies raised
will go directly to help Sandy Hook School and Newtown. The beauty of this
fund is that we can designate its use farther down the road, when we can
determine where it will do the most good for the families of SHS and our

Newtown PTA/PTSAs thank both the CT PTSA and National PTA for their support
at this time. Soon the media attention will fade and we will continue to
support each other in private. We love Newtown and our wonderful families.
Don’t hesitate to contact your local PTA/PTSA officers with any of your
concerns; we are here for you and each other.

Newtown PTA/PTSAs

With snowflake inspiration all over the internet, this project seems like the perfect way for all of us who want to do something for this devastated community and let them know how much we love and care for them.  Just click on the pictures to link to the how-tos.

And from the queen of crafts, Martha Stewart:

Spending time with our children on this project might help heal us all a bit, as well.

Updated information regarding the Sandy Hook Snowflake Project via Peanut Butter Fingers:  the snowflakes should not have any writing on them, but please include a note explaining their origin (school, class, town, state) to display along with your snowflakes.


Lucky 12!

Once in a Lifetime Happy Birthday

     My niece is one special girl.  eDe turns 12 today, 12-12-12.  This darling and delightful girl is a spiritual gift to our whole family, so I had to find the perfect gift to mark this profound occasion.

     With 12 on my mind, I turned to EleganceLetters, the etsy shop that created the wooden monogram for my daughter’s dorm room decor.

The shop owner behind this site eagerly accommodated my special request with three different design choices, and within a couple of weeks, I was working on this.

     Since my Paintbrush and Pearls workshop, I am much more aware of how a painted piece can be improved so much with a bit of fine sanding in between coats.  After a bit of wood putty, light sanding, primer, fine sanding and a couple of coats of high gloss white paint, I am so excited for eDe to receive her 20″ Lucky 12.

Happy 12th Birthday, eDe!!!

Sure hope that this will always remind her of this unique day and how remarkable she is.

All photos by Avad Fan.

Let the Christmas Decorating Begin

Better Late than Never

     After twenty-five years of collecting Christmas decorations with the Hub, I am up to my eyeball in red and green boxes.  Of course, we don’t use all of the items contained inside them, but I do take a walk down memory lane with each box opened.  Like everything else, I should lighten up and let many of these go to Goodwill, but then will the memories of Christmases past go with them, too?


     I can’t risk that.  Nevertheless, while I am digging through this pile to create our 2012 Christmas, I will keep reminding myself of the simple beautiful of this stunningly executed tree.  It is such an inspiration to lighten up.

St. Catherine's Christmas House Tour 2012

Tinselled tree spotted on the St. Catherine’s School Holiday House Tour last weekend.

Welcome to Richmond, Brocante Home!

Thanks for bringing Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint to the Capitol City

     You have been reading about Annie Sloane’s chalk paint for awhile now as I have been freshening up the old brown furniture around our abode.  My source for the paint has been the fabulous French shop in Irvington, Brocante Home.  Though it’s a bit of a hike from the West End, every time I head to the Rivah with friends, we make a point of stopping in and leaving with at least one new can of paint.

     The owner of Brocante Home, Rachel Pugliese, loves to teach her customers about the wonders of this paint.  In fact, most Thursdays you can find her in the store paintbrush in hand transforming an old piece into something wonderful.  She is always full of tips and has started offering two-hour workshops to help her customers get comfortable with this easy and clean medium for transformation.  She has even named the workshops “Paintbrush and Pearls” to further her point.

     One of the posse and I decided to try the workshop the other week, and sure enough Rachel was wearing her pearls as she took us through different finishing techniques to use with the chalk paint and waxes.  Of all of her pearls of wisdom gathered from experience, the most valuable to me was the importance of buffing after waxing and sanding.  A really good going over with 800 grit sandpaper makes all the difference to the final look and feel of the piece.

     The other information that we picked up during our workshop was that Brocante Home has just opened a small outpost in DéCOR, the design center in Carytown!  For now, Brocante’s floorspace is mostly Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint, but the shop has plans to expand as room becomes available in this wonderful design haven.  Several local designers have set up small shops within these walls, and Brocante Home is the perfect addition.  Rachel also plans to be on-site on Wednesdays so that she can answer customers’ questions about the chalk paint.

     Now you have no excuse to postpone your own furniture transformations.  The paints are nearby, as is the expertise.  Plus the paints are so easy to use that you can just set up a workshop in your living room just like this Avad Fan.

     Happy Painting!

Inspired to Finally Get Transforming a Piece or Two of the Home

     Lately, inspiration has been everywhere.  It started at the Designed for a Cure event for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  There a panel of Williams & Sherrill design experts, including Kevin Malone, shared their design viewpoints.   Then through Annie Selke‘s luncheon presentation, I learned that my design style is “Everyday Exuberance”.  This perfectly apt and succinct description can now guide me and give me confidence in my color choices.

     The next week one of my design blogger heroines, Tobi Fairley, delighted an IFDA luncheon crowd as she showed how her design aesthetic and her design projects have evolved over the last decade of her very successful career.  She shared a lot of advice with the audience of mostly local designers, but I am going to take some of it as well, starting with taking pictures of the rooms of my house to locate decor problems.  Following the IFDA luncheon where Tobi spoke, our posse toured the Richmond Symphony Designer House, which was filled with amazing rooms produced by local talent like Malone and Kat Liebschwager of Ruth & Ollie (I hear Kat’s fabulous dinner room there was photographed for a future issue of Traditional Home).

     The following week, I had the great pleasure to have coffee with one of my other design blogger heroines, Laura Trevey of Bright Bold & Beautiful.  Introduced through a mutual friend after I won a BB&B Bliss giveaway, Laura truly lives up to the name of her blog.  By the end of our coffee, she felt like an old friend.  Laura has got such exciting things happening on her blog (you really should subscribe here to find out), and she left me completely energized.

Energetic and enthusiastic, Laura Trevey takes her own advise and gets in the picture with her kids and the dog.

     Finally, over the past month I have had the pleasure of a couple of day trips to the Rivah with friends.  While their fabulous homes demanded attention, on both trips we stopped by the delightfully French design shop, Brocante, in Irvington, as well as browse the local antique and consignment stores.  Brocante carries the Annie Sloan chalk paint line and is filled with examples of furniture that Brocante’s helpful owner, Rachel Pugliese, has transformed with the AS paint.  Each time I visit Brocante, I have to buy some Annie Sloan thing, which ends up in a closet while I fantasize about what boring brown piece of furniture in our house can be spiced up with the magic contained in one of her cans.

     Not this time, though.  With all of this inspiration and the realization that I could not buy another orphan piece of furniture until I made progress on what we already have, I have finally gotten out the sandpaper, wood-putty and paint brushes and started making a few transformations of my own.  I can’t wait to show you the results of my inspiration to transformation pieces.  In the meantime, maybe these inspirations will nudge you to transform your home fantasies into reality.

Take Time to Travel Over the River and Through Some Woods to the Richmond Symphony Designer House

     To all of my West End friends:  you only have one week left to set your g.p.s. and venture across the River and a couple of miles down Huguenot Road to visit the 2012 Richmond Symphony Orchestra League (RSOL) Designer House at Pinifer Park at 3312 Robious Crossing Drive, Midlothian, Virginia.  Don’t worry that you’ve got to go all the way to the Southside.  The unusual setting really is not very far, and if you have any interest in seeing local design talent, you will be so glad that you went.

     Pinifer Park is a stately early 20th century home now set at the back of a 1970’s era subdivision.  Once you reach the property, you feel as though you could be in the back of Windsor Farms.  The former home of the Laird family, the current owner/developer has shrewdly partnered with the RSOL to present this home and land which he plans to subdivide into several building lots to sell along with the original home and its immediately adjoining 3 acres.

     Showhouses like Pinifer Park provide a unique opportunity for designers to exhibit their talents free of the constraints of client preferences and budgets.  The delightful and savvy Tobi Fairley mentioned in her lunchtime IFDA talk before we toured Pinifer Park that participating in designer showhouses has catapulted this Arkansas girl into the spotlight in national magazines like Traditional Home, House Beautiful and Southern Living.  Twenty-two of the region’s finest designers have pulled out all of the stops throughout the different areas of this detail-rich home.  The result is a series of “wow” rooms that may not relate to each other, but all celebrate and enhance the discreet areas.

     Pinifer Park’s unique floorplan is relatable to today’s transitional home spaces.  Guests enter through a covered porch that wraps-around three sides of the house and into a two-story entry and “great room” with central fireplace.  The remainder of the rooms in the house are on the cozy side, and while I really appreciate the designs in all of them, a few of the rooms really stand out to me.

Dining Room

     My absolute favorite room is the dining room, which I immediately knew was designed by Kat Liebschwager of Ruth & Ollie the moment that I entered.  This rendering does not fully show the fabulous eating and sitting area, but you can get a flavor for the bold yellow, pink and white color scheme with a Greek key flair.  The original floors in the great room and dining room feature Greek key detailing, and I love how Kat played up that theme in this glamorous space.

First-Floor Sitting Room

     I also correctly guessed that one of my other most favorite spaces, the first-floor sitting room, has been designed by Kevin Malone, along with Jamie Coffey, at Williams and Sherrill.  I have become a huge fan of Kevin’s since seeing the William’s home in the Summer 2012 issue of R Home magazine and hearing him speak at the recent Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Designed for a Cure event.  In this cozy sitting space which features three walls of tall windows, Kevin plays up the ceiling’s height with artwork and perfect editing to create a space that is comfortable for both men and women.

Great Room

     Jennifer Stoner of her eponymous interiors business (as well as the organizer of the IFDA luncheon) took on the challenge of the great room with great success.  Jennifer has really played up the dark wood beams, railings and moldings in this large area while managing to make it feel timeless yet fresh.  Though the whole blue and brown color trend seems so “done”, the aqua blue walls lighten the space, while the vibrant Rodulph fabric curtains inject some youthful energy into the home.

Master Bedroom

     The master suite has been designed by Moyanne Harding of Lynchburg.  Though unfamiliar with her work, the posse who joined me for the IFDA lunch were all immediately impressed by how she has complemented many of the original features in the master bath and the bedroom with absolutely gorgeous and detailed linen fabrics, along with European lighting and mirrors.  The result is a serene and sensuous space.

Second-Floor Bedroom

     The second-floor bedroom created by Helen O’Ferrall of H.P. Grace and Company is also a serene stand-out.  She had canvases hand-painted to hang like wallpaper within the wall moldings.  The lightly colored fabrics provide a clean palette that lends a modern feel to the vintage pieces used throughout the room.  One new piece of note, though, is the dressing table that Ms. O’Ferrall commissioned.  The top of thick poured concrete with organic curves contrasts to stunning effect with the voluminous skirt made of silk burlap so that it will be soft to the legs while primping.

     Unfortunately I have no pictures of this amazing dressing table nor any of the other wonderful pieces on display at the RSOL Designer House because pictures are not supposed to be taken in the house.  The designers’ renderings above from the RSOL program were made in advance and do not feature all of the wonderful details that they have included in their final stylizations.  To see them, you’ve got to take the tour, and you’d better hurry as the Designer House closes on Monday, October 8.  I promise that it will be a brief journey that will delight and have your design juices churning for a long time.

Bright, Bold, and Beautiful’s Bliss Home & Design Giveaway

But I Never Win Anything!

     You can only imagine my surprise early yesterday as I was enjoying my coffee while reading my morning emails, which always include posts from a few of my favorite bloggers.  When I got to this Bright, Bold, and Beautiful post, I almost spilled the hot java.  Laura Trevey had announced that Avad Fan was the winner of her fabulous blog’s $75 gift certificate to Bliss Home & Design.

     I spent the next hour perusing Bliss Home & Design‘s gorgeous site trying to decide what I could get with help from my windfall.

Eye-catching coral from the site’s ever-changing selection.

Dransfield and Ross pillows that would look perfect in our master.

Crazy for this Arteriors Zanadoo chandy, but the Hub would think that I had lost my mind.

Anything bamboo, really, but the dining rooms is calling for a pair of these buffet lamps.

This 21.5″ mirror just takes my breath away.

The contrast between polish and texture creates a timeless treasure.

My orchids could use an upgrade from their terra-cotta pots.

Bliss Home’s large selection of decorative accessories includes this peacock that stands over five feet tall.

Lots of shimmery John-Richard eglomise furnishings like this buffet.

Surely there is a place in our home for this Italian beauty.

And what home couldn’t use a piece of jewelry like any of Bliss Home’s large selection of minerals?

     So many choices!  It may take me a while, but how thrilling to get to decide.  Thanks so much to Laura Trevey,

the beautiful and talented Richmond artist behind the wildly popular Bright, Bold and Beautiful blog.  I am so excited to bring a little Bliss into my home.