Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Good Morning from Chapel Hill, NC

Spending time in the South always brings a smile and a sense of calm to me. 
One of our three daughters has chosen the South to call home.
Unfortunately, we don't have the pleasure of living in the same town
or even the same state as our daughters, so our trips to visit them are
extra special.

This trip was to Chapel Hill, NC.  We were able to tour some lovely areas on
two of the most prestigious colleges in North Carolina. Today I am sharing 
the University of North Carolina's Rizzo Conference Center/Hotel. Believe
me this is not your "normal" hotel. This is luxurious living space complete
with gorgeous amenities and tranquil grounds; perfect for company off sites
or family get-a-ways.  It is also home to the UNC Executive MBA students
and their weekend classrooms. How lucky is our daughter........
now that is luxury!

As soon as you enter the Rizzo building (James K. McClean Hall) you are met with pure Southern charm. Lovely curved staircases, Carolina blue furnishings, and black and white marble floors.  Does this look like any of the rooms in the college buildings you attended?

The architectural design embodies that of a wealthy landowner from an old Southern mansion. These rooms were dressed with gorgeous flowing draperies, and crystal chandeliers.

The grounds surrounding the property are breathtaking. The windowed wall on the building is also a dining room allowing guests to enjoy the lovely gardens while dining.

If your summer vacation takes you anywhere near Chapel Hill, NC, I suggest taking a detour for at least a few hours (or even stay the night) to enjoy this lovely tranquility. Many thanks to our daughter for sharing! xx

Wishing y'all a peaceful day!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Welcome to My Mother's House


For as long as I can remember my Mother has loved to garden. It is these later
years that have allowed her to spend more time on these glorious gardens.
They all reflect the tender loving care she bestows upon them each and every
She surprised me this year with her whimsical add of the "pink" chair. She 
purchased a can of Pink spray paint and painted the chair herself, and then
added it to her garden. As you can see as you scroll the photos below, she
has quite the green thumb and artistic flair.

Wishing you a Sunshiny day!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Home Renovation Chapter 2---Family Room Makeover

When searching for our new home my husband had just a couple of must-haves; his primary was a 2-story family room.  I found the house with the family room with the help of our great realtor, Ginger, but not without some obstacles. The layout made the finished room a bit of a challenge, but I was up for it. The house also included my primary must-have, the Master Bedroom on the first floor!

 I always turn to decorating magazines (House & Home and Veranda to name a couple), and I Google search websites that deal with this type of issue when I need some inspiration. Finding solutions to furniture arrangement in a room that has a fireplace that is off center on a wall, and pillars stuck at the end of a room as a divider, pushed my talents to a new level.

The photos you will see below are the BEFORE  and AFTER photos which show the condition of the room when we purchased the house and changes we made prior to adding our furnishings.

The previous owners mounted the TV above the fireplace, which is not centered in the room, which leads to alot of furniture placement issues. The room dimensions are 24 x 21 so there is a lot of room to work with, but the fireplace and TV placement, did not fall across from one another.
The fireplace mantle was too low and not wide enough for my Christmas garland, which is pretty important to me. The area surrounding the fireplace opening was painted wallboard, not fire proof. The hearth was a dingy grey blue slate with no character. The built-in speakers were not compatible with our system, so we had the carpenter remove the existing built-in ones, and covered them with fresh wallboard, plastering and sanding, prior to repainting.
Between the family room and living room is a hall leading to the Master Bedroom and a Powder Room. This area was divided by using 4 columns in the family room.
(Previous owner furnishings.)

The two center columns were removed once it was determined they were not load bearing by our structural engineer.
White builder grade fans were replaced with Minka Aire,Tuscan style.
  These fans are not only energy efficient, but silent!
Existing track lighting was replaced with these eyeball
lights that focus light on the area above the mantle.

By removing the columns the room was now open the complete depth of the house and painted a lighter more neutral color, Benjamin Moore HC-35 Powell Buff walls, 02 Super White trim and Ceiling.

We decided to remove all of the existing carpeted areas on the first floor, and replace them with wood. We chose a vendor that we had never used before and after some of the floor had been installed,  we realized that the quality standards did not meet what we required.  We then chose another vendor with an Eco Friendly finish, and a much better grade, and manufacturing process.  Mercier Select Maple was our final choice. This also allowed us to have very few imperfections in the grain, and a much stronger finish. We are very pleased with this product.

Mercier wood floors during installation.


        Fireplace Hearth and Surround BEFORE and AFTER

 The fireplace mantle, surround and hearth were all in need of an update. After searching for new tile ideas, I came upon a beautiful Carrera Hexagon Honed Marble that I fell in love with in the showroom. It is simple and beautiful, and just what I was looking for. My carpenter designed an exact template of our mantle,
increased the width and added some height. It was just the adjustment it needed.

All ready for my Christmas garland and stockings!


New Low E Energy Efficient slider Patio doors were added. I purchased fabric from
Boca Bargoons in Fort Myers, Florida by the bolt for the draperies. After much research, I decided on making a simple lined panel, and attached a tassel trim complimentary
to our furnishings. The rods and rings are from the Designer Kirsch line and are wood in a Mahogany color; a special order item from Calico Home. A simple Mahogany holdback from Kirsch was added so that a slight draping affect could be achieved.

This is a very simple treatment to make on your own keeping your drapery budget much less. Patience is required as there is a lot of bulk in the fabric as you feed it through your sewing machine, but it is well worth it. My friend, Mary H., from Florida gave me my first introduction to sewing a drapery like this. Don't be intimidated by its size, go for it, I did and look at the results! Thank you my dear friend Mary H.!!

I hope that you all enjoy my labors of love. I will be posting more renovations
in the future.

Have a wonderful day!

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Trip Down Memory Lane in Western New York

Twenty five years ago we relocated our family to the Midwest from the Western New York area. Until then, our families had lived in very close proximity to us. Leaving them behind was tough...but we will always hold dear the memories that were created while we lived in WNY.
 We make it a conscious effort to return home each year making one trip in the Summer, and one in the late Fall. This time my husband and I felt like exploring some of the cities that held the greatest memories for us early in our relationship. We grabbed my mother and headed to Lewiston, NY, a place that we frequented. We often just walked the streets enjoying our Hanson's shrimp and the beautiful waterfront. Many times we also stopped in Youngstown, NY with our bikes and took the ferry across to Niagara-on-the-Lake in Canada. Unfortunately, this is no longer operating apparently because of the need for stricter border security.
Although, Lewiston, as all towns in WNY, has changed over the years, there is still such a beautiful, simple beauty that remains. It's deep roots stemming back to some of the most historically documented moments in American history. The Town of Lewiston is also home to the New York Power Authority's Robert Moses Power Project which is the largest hydroelectric generating facility in New York State.
 We strolled the Main Street enjoying the various little shops and boutiques, and walked through some lovely gardens that were so inviting we wanted to stay.
I hope you enjoy my photos as we travelled down memory lane.
Wishing you a beautiful Monday! 

Lovely historic homes line the streets.

Beautiful gardens with such creative ideas.

What a lovely place for morning coffee.

Di Camillo Bakery has the most delicious breads, biscotti and much much more!! 

I couldn't resist taking the photo of this boutique the color just begs you to enter!
My mother thought so too!

Historic beauty everywhere.

Beautiful city parks filled with lovely flower displays.