I’ll show you my brass pineapples if you show me yours…


Come on people, get your mind out of the gutter.  I’m actually talking about my brass pineapples. 

It’s no surprise that I hopped on this trend given that 1. It includes brass, and 2. Pineapples have long been known as a universal symbol of welcoming and hospitality.  Its been said that after captains had traveled to the Caribbean to bring back goods, they would spear the fence post outside their home with a pineapple letting everyone know they were home safe from sea.  Anyone who knows me, knows that my love of the sea runs deep, and even though I learned of this fact after my obsession with obtaining brass pineapples began, I still feel as if this bit of history that I unearthed sort of seals me to this whole pineapple trend-so basically me and pineapples, we are forever.



Now I know I’ve pretty much set up this post to be all about my brass pineapples,and trust me I’m going to be flashing them around so much that you may experience temporary blindness,  BUT, I majorly scored on vacation this year, and mostly I have to show you errythang because it is awesome and plus also its all shoved onto the mantle in a conglomerate mess of awesome things.

First up, the ginger jar.  It’s.pink.  PINK! As if this fact alone wasn’t enough, it just so happens to be covered in flora and fauna and it’s just absolutely delicious, and whats more is that I bought it from my favorite family who’s shops I visit year after year when we go the Outer Banks.  I support their sea faring antiques business and they support my need to acquire more things.  Symbiosis at it’s finest. 

ginger jar


A flock of Kokeshi Dolls


These lambs are probably my favorite vacation purchase.  There aren’t any markings or labels that I can discern, though I do think they have a Lefton quality to them.  I  love their mischievous little eyes.

side mantle

And this cat.  She was love at first sight.  We didn’t exactly make eye contact, but when I saw her huge ceramic rump in the window I knew I was taking her home.  Her green eyes totally sealed the deal.  



mantle side view

front door

Do you hunt and scour the dingy depths of thrift/antique stores to find special things to take back home with you on vacation?  I love the Outer Banks and spend many of my days planning how I can make it our forever home, but in the meantime I have these special treasures that remind me of my days by the sea.  I hope you all can be so lucky to find as many special things that remind you of your favorite places.


Dining Room Revamp Part 2

I hope you all had a fabulous Valentines day-we ordered Chinese and watched The Vow-it was fabulous. 

Today I am sharing the finale to our dining room revamp!  

Our dining room table is the only piece of furniture that we kept for the new and improved space.  I’ve talked about the table before here, it’s such a solid piece and can totally withstand my two girls sitting on it (literally sitting on top of it because that’s how they do).


girls 019Now lets talk Craigslist and the bench pictured above.  I rescued these lovelies from a playroom full of toddler jumping and marker scribbles.  Someone was practically giving them away at $40 for the pair.  I was sort of taking a gamble seeing as I had no idea how long they were, but in the end the turned out to be perfect.  Now while the benches themselves were cheap, the vinyl to reupholster them certainly was not!  I went with a more expensive vinyl that feels soft and buttery, and has a lovely stretch that cheaper marine vinyl does not have-it was $35 a yard, but I we (my mom purchased 5 yards for me as part of my xmas gift) held out for sales and ended up spending about $160 for 8 yards-which sure beats the $280ish dollars it would have been.  I don’t have a lot of photos from the reupholstering process because we had no idea what we were doing, and it would be like the blind leading the blind- we don’t know two shits about upholstering.  What I will tell you is that for first timers I think we really did a great job! 067

We had to remove the bench from the frame to reupholster it, and in order to get the benches to scoot under the table we sawed off part of the arm.  To conceal the staples, and add some interest we added gold upholstery tacks.  And remember when I talked about painting the wing-back chairs following that great tutorial from Hyphen Interiors?  Well, I did.  I can’t say I’m thrilled with the results, which is why I’m purchasing black slipcovers instead.  You can see from one of the photos that they are a little streaky, and the fabric does feel similar to a stiff canvas-but it’s just not comfortable.  And talk about lint magnets! 

Without any further jabbering, here is another before and after:


I removed the wing-back so you could see the benches and the rugs underneath the table

whole view good

The gorgeous over-dyed rugs (they didn’t have one quite big enough so I bought two and put them together) are from Rugs USA.  I cannot find this particular rug (the Kimberly) on their site anymore, but I bought mine when they were 70% off, and they quickly sold out.  Nuloom, which I believe is the actual maker/supplier of the rug, is also sold out.  These rugs were normally around $500 a piece, and I scored two 5×8’s for $300!  They are hand tufted over-dyed wool, and the quality is absolutely amazing!  I love the way they ground the space.  

side view with wingback

side view 2

side view 3

I Love the Ikea Stockholm chandelier, the mid-century dresser, and the faux sheepskin.  All those elements together are glamorous without being over the top.

books on tableSince I decided not to put the books back into the room, I knew neat piles of books on the table would have to suffice.  This is where I read, sew, menu plan, and I needed the space to reflect that without being cluttered by books.cluttered classy

side view 1

nailhead trim

side view bench

ranarp ikea light

I knew these Ranarp industrial sconces from Ikea would become very popular, and I was right because weeks after I purchased mine Country Living featured them in their magazine.  These chic clamp on spotlights add a lovely industrial/boho vibe that tempers some of the girly elements in the room. I don’t know if this happens to you, but I seem to predict trends simply based on what I’m drawn to at the moment.  It happens all the time.  Like when HGTV had a feature recently on the Benjamin Moore paint color “Hot Lips”.  I was like, “whaaaa?” My kitchen has been hot lips for over a year! 

ikea lights

side view with window seat window seat 1

032Painterly fabrics are so hot right now.  I fell in love with these pillows on Etsy, but couldn’t justify the close to $100 for the two of them.  Luckily I found this pretty painterly fabric at Jo-Ann Fabrics.  It’s a satin broadcloth with a lovely bit of stretch.  It is incredibly soft, and feels a bit luxurious for the price since it’s just $16 a yard.  Since I splurged on the vinyl for the benches, I went with another heavier duty sateen broadcloth to cover the window seat.


target tabeThreshold for Target table that I scored for $23!

window seat 3

Hope ya’ll enjoyed my makeover story!


A Dining Room Revamp…

 After years of living in white-walled apartments I was both excited and overwhelmed at the decorating possibilities that lay before me after we purchased our 1929 bungalow.  No more horrendous brown carpet, eggshell paint, and New York City sized kitchens.  But as a self diagnosed “serial decorator” I was a little too eager to get this house looking spiffy.  I made A LOT of mistakes.  I was impatient, and on top of that we were completely broke for the first few months because I wasn’t working.  Broke AND impatient are not a good basis for any worthy design plan.  In the first week of being moved in to our new home I painted our living room a yummy shade of Pepto Bismal pink.  Then without so much as a blink, stenciled a purple Ikat pattern on the dining room walls.  It looked like I hired a 12 yr old girl to do my decorating for me.  I had some sort of ill decorating syndrome from years of living in bland apartments, which prevented me from painting or doing anything that wasn’t completely over the top-and WRONG.  Because I had never been able to choose paint colors before, I thought I was relegated to super saturated intense colors.  Why after years of being held back from decorating the way I wanted, would I choose barely there paint colors that you could hardly notice??? I wanted to make a statement-and boy did I.  

Case & point:


Hodge Podge is the word that comes to mind when looking at this photo.  This was right before we painted the living room Lily Lavender by Benjamin Moore.  (never mind the ghost lights or the folded laundry) Once we lightened up, everything started making more sense.  I still had lots of work to do, but that was definitely my turning point.  I realized that sometimes less is MORE.   And as much as I still hate things being “undone”, I understand now that it takes time, and I think the bottom photo proves that I learned my lesson.  

iphone 686

 Now you might think I’m just getting ready to share a dining room overhaul with you-and I am, but I’m also sharing a lot more…Growth.  I like to think of this as a sort of decorating coming of age tale if you will.  I’ll be thirty-one this year.  I’ve spent four years growing into myself-in this house that I adore, and this dining room signifies not only personal growth, but the growth I’ve experienced as a decorator.  The design was well thought out, yet also instinctual.  It’s bohemian, and glamorous, and super comfy.  It’s truly a space to “hang out” in, and that’s exactly what we do each night as we put on Frank Sinatra, light the candles, and enjoy a meal together.  

I’m sharing this revamp (more like complete overhaul) in three stages.  It would be far too much to cram all into one post, and I want to compare each area with the before photos.  So suck it

I’m not going to lie, I nearly had a panic attack when we started painting over the Ikat, but I instantly knew I would love having a dark and cozy dining room.  The paint color is Mark Twain grey by Valspar.

before after

corner sideboard view

corner view light off

booze close up

I removed the bar cart from the living room, and opted instead for this tabletop version.  I am still on the hunt for the perfect tray to sit underneath.  books DR close up

I nabbed the mid-century dresser on Craigslist for $70.  The brand is Lenoir House, which was a division of Broyhill.  Lenoir House sold the companies more modest priced pieces. I’m also still (after all these years) thinking of a way to disguise that plywood covered hole in the floor which use to be where the coal burning furnace was.

window seat view

The floor lamp is from Target, and the shade is covered in a cheapie Ikea stripe, which I also used for some euro pillows on the window seat.  I like the unconventional pairing of the table lamp on one side, with the floor lamp on the other.  The large oval mirror (also Ikea) reflects so much light and prettiness from the rest of the room.  

As with most things, it’s not 100% finished-I will undoubtedly change things, but the bones of this room are so right that I imagine it will stay this way for quite a while.  


Use What You’ve Got…

As discussed in my previous post, you know, the one I posted weeks ago?! I had high hopes for the mantle going into 2014.  I’m sure the fact that so much time and attention goes into planning my mantle decor seems ludicrous to most people.  But, it honestly was about more than that.  Sure, I’m an obsessive decorator who’s dreams consist of wallpaper samples and paint swatches, but the obsession over the mantle wasn’t merely about decor, it was more about being a showcase of inspiration.  I am an avid resolution maker, and not just each new year.  ALL.THE.TIME.  I crave change like a Big Mac.  It’ s a blessing, and curse.  Now, obviously the mantle didn’t turn out exactly as I had planned, and that is OK too.  I did buy a few prints that I had envisioned for it, but I ended up liking them better in our new and improved dining room, which I will share soon.  That’s the thing about planning, you can’t be too rigid because then you don’t allow room for things to happen organically, and no one wants their decor to feel forced and stuffy.  I ended up using things I already had to decorate the mantle after the holidays, with the exception of the white vase which I scored at Target on clearance.  I bought two, and I am kind of in love with them! While it’s not filled with the things I had originally intended, it is inspirational, and it doesn’t cost anything to decorate with things you already have!  I have a framed card that Ava made me for Mother’s Day, lots of family photos that I clipped on using the glitter pins that held the advent calender, and I even kept a few paper fans up there, because they are fun, and add a touch of whimsy that makes me smile.  










So, yesterday I gave you a sneak peak at our new DIY train table/coffee table.  Today I am going to show you some pictures of the LR, and some recent changes that spurred from this new coffee table. I posted this picture of our little living room nook months ago.  The problem is that the whole nook started taking on this  feminine, cottage country feel.  It wasn’t that it was terribly bad, It just wasn’t right.  I decorate from the gut, and my gut was telling me something was off.  When the chalkboard table was done, I knew I had to inject more black into the space.  Another thing I might quickly add, is that we have our TV in an Armoire, OK, a cabinet-its not exactly fancy enough to be an armoire. Whatevs. It was previously 25 different colors, all in the course of two years, and now it’s white.  Rustoleum’s white gloss enamel to be exact, which is the most spectacular paint. Now all of the furniture in the LR is white. I am not a fan of matchy-matchy, but I must say it is cohesive, and lovely.  

I love the black tuxedo stripe on the cabinet, it transforms an ordinary piece into something, dare I say, sexy, and the lion head pulls will forever be one of my favorites.  The oriental lamp with the Liberty of London shade adds something whimsical to mix.  I ordered the Ikat pillow cover several years ago from an Ebay dealer in Uzbekistan.  The pillow got a fun little update with some Sharpie marker! It honestly took forever, but the end result is pretty fabulous, and it looks like I bought it that way!

These Ribba picture ledges are a great way for me to display my books and Magazines.  The asymmetrical valance was all moms idea. I have to admit, as someone who holds firm beliefs about symmetry, I was not totally on board with the idea. I quickly changed my mind, because it’s totally punk rock!  I have never dyed anything before, so I followed this tutorial for dip dye.  I already had a white fabric panel leftover from another project, and the drapery tiebacks that I spray painted white, so all I needed to complete the project was a three dollar box of dye.  I want to emphasize that I completed this little redo with things I already had, or things that are relatively inexpensive like a sharpie marker, and fabric dye.  Change doesn’t have to drain your pockets.

The design of this little nook has changed, but the premise has stayed the same.

 Make a drink, grab a magazine, sit down and relax. XO-Tara

nook beterDSC01867DSC01857good one


bar cartDSC01873



Bar Cart Philosophy

iphone 884

iphone 886iphone 888                                                      

Bar carts.  Their everywhere.  Their the Don Draper of interiors right now, and I think it’s safe to say their not going anywhere anytime soon.  Bar carts are nothing new really, their like any other trend, their popularity has waxed and waned until one day fifty years later their reborn into something fresh and new.  And if Mad Men has taught us nothing else, it sure as hell has taught us that when times get tough,  you go make an Old Fashioned.  

But lets get philosophical about bar carts for a moment.  Oh yes I’m going there.  I am going to be the crazy lady that seeps meaning into the theory of why bar carts are having their hay day again.  So here it goes.  Sure we all like to get crunked from time to time, and you bet our bar carts are there for that.  But dare I say that they also allow us to be present in a way we otherwise wouldn’t be.   I know it sounds like a crock of shit, and maybe it is-but I think unless your an absolute drunk this can be true.  I can assure you, you’d be hard pressed to find a bar cart that is messy, and ill equipped.  And I venture to say that most people that have bar carts are probably pretty particular about the way they look.  This is not entirely superficial.  I think it’s a new adage that says “messy bar cart, messy life.”   Now, it’s obviously not the booze that make us more present, I think the moment of presence is short lived inbetween the actual making of the drink, and consumption of it.  It’s ceremonial, you have to slow down and think about what your going to create, and take the time to do so.  I think like any other thing in our lives in which we are particular about, and that we approach with intent-the purposefulness lies there.  We are more present through intention. There is a little chalkboard plaque above my bar cart that reads, “Sit, read, drink” and maybe it’s as simple as that…and maybe it’s not




IMG_0695 I have a problem.  Have you heard those stories about crazy ladies who rearrange their furniture while their husbands are at work, and then their husbands come home at night, tripping and falling all over the lack of familiarity?  That’s me.

An entrance to my home is often followed by a long pause, a survey of what has since been changed.  I suppose it’s a rather inherent quality, OK I guess its more of a hindrance than an actually quality per say, but who’s keeping track.

The inoperable (for now) fireplace has been an issue since we moved into this 1920’s bungalow two years ago.  It was always the nerdy kid in the corner  watching everyone else enjoy the party.  With the door being just feet away, flanking chairs seemed bulky and awkward, but it was apparent that we needed something to fill the space.  We had always talked about built in bookcases, but aren’t things much more fun when done on a whim! So here’s the story about how my mom said, “You should do those built-ins by the fireplace,” and so we did…that weekend.  It all started with a trip to Ikea for some Billy bookcases.  Ohhh, did I forget to mention that these bookcases are totally removable, and for all intents and purposes, FAKE?! I know what your thinking, I’m a total genius, I absolutely agree. After another trip to Lowes for a sheet of MDF, and some trim pieces, the engineering began.  Well at least it did for my husband.  I come up with the brilliant ideas, he makes it happen.  That’s our system, however unfair it may be.  He has his gifts, I have mine, it just so happens mine involve a lot less physical labor.  So basically you sit the bookcase in your opening until you have a proportionate amount on each side.  We pulled ours closer to the front of the fireplace, to give the illusion of more depth. Then you box it in using your MDF for the sides and top, and add trim/molding pieces to give it a more finished look.

bookcases no ceilingThe great thing is that the top is totally removable, allowing access to the outlets behind that we did want to re-route, and should I ever one day tire of these fantastical beauties, all I have to do is slide them out.  All of the MDF, and molding is secured directly to the bookcase, making it one continuous piece.  Amazeballs, I know.  Obviously, I added new sconces,  roman shades, and did something a little traditional with the mantle styling, and the hot pink magazine files from Target are totally killing it, but more on that later.  In closing I would like to address that little white Spackle blob above the  right sconce.  I would love it if every time I shared a photo on our blog, it was this perfect flawless image.  But lets face it, everyone’s life is in need of a little Spackle, both literally and metaphorically.  So there.


Keeping it real in Ohio.