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For The Love of Realtors

bird-house-in-ocean

I think that Realtors must be some of the most positive people on the planet. Their job is to steer you in the right direction, and help you fall in love with a home; they earn your trust, build a relationship, and hopefully complete the deal. Before they know it, they have become the unsuspecting Matchmaker’s of the work force.

And, they have their own love language. We all watch the selling, flipping and goodness-knows-what-else shows that are saturating television right now, but my favorite’s are the international one’s. It seems easy to sell the attributes of a seven million dollar loft in New York City, but when faced with a small pied-à-terre in the back of a rather questionable alley, the challenge becomes a little more real.

Sometimes, it can require an almost fairytale kind of imagination (and a very positive attitude). So, with respect and love to Realtors everywhere, I wanted to share some of my favorite words from their dictionary:

OPEN PLAN – No privacy. Ever.

COZY – Much smaller than you think, and not suitable for anyone over six feet tall.

CHARMING – Has not been renovated, repaired or cleaned since 1973.

A VIEW – It has a window that you can look out of.

OUTSIDE SPACE – If you go out the door, from the inside of the house, you will be outside, in a space.

NEEDS SOME TLC – Watch your step, sign the insurance waiver, and don’t forget to wear a helmet when you visit.

PRIVATE – You will never, ever get any visitors unless they have a GPS, an overnight bag and four wheel drive.

LOW MAINTENANCE BACK YARD – A slab of concrete with room for a small, potted geranium and a white plastic chair.

VERY SPACIOUS, WITH AN OPEN PLAN CONCEPT – Larger than anyone could possible need, and please don’t ask me how you’re supposed to arrange your furniture.

LOTS OF NATURAL LIGHT – Bring your own lamps, because there are no ceiling lights (anywhere).

BUILT IN HOME OFFICE – An open shelf in a corner of the kitchen.

EASY WALKING TO ALL AMENITIES – No garage or parking space for your car.

UP AND COMING NEIGHBORHOOD – One day it will be safe, but for now don’t go out after dark, and don’t remove the bars from the windows.

PARTIALLY FURNISHED – The current owners don’t want to pay to remove the pool table, the beds have bugs, and they can’t be bothered to clean out the refrigerator.

HAS POTENTIAL – Not for the faint of heart – contractors only, please.

MOVE IN READY – We are desperate, we’ve done all we can, and we have to leave.

UNIQUE HOME – Dad retired early, bought a bunch of tools, and started fixing up the house.

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/
Photograph of House on Holland Island from Amusing Planet

 

 

Feather Talk

Have we talked about feathers yet?

A few years ago, my friend gave me her lime green, feather wreath as a surprise gift. Maybe it was because I couldn’t stop petting it, or maybe she had a secret pile of back-up wreaths in the cupboard, but when I discovered what she had done I almost cried with happiness.
I hung it front and center in the living room window, and kept it up for way longer than I should have. Seeing it every day was the most welcome of sights, and I never wanted to take it down.
As Spring started to arrive, the outside colors took over, and the green started to fade into the background; gone was the vivid contrast with the sharp, white snow outside, and I knew it was finally time to put it away.

The next year, all I wanted for Christmas was my feather wreath. Carefully placed in my office closet, I never gave it a second thought, but when I tried to bring it out in November, it didn’t even come out in one piece. The foam was eaten, and the feathers were neatly piled into the corner, behind my paint swatches, surrounded by mice poo. Five hundred and seventy five million paper paint swatches, and they didn’t even taste one; they chose to seek and destroy the wreath instead. Like me, they couldn’t resist the soft feathers, and I am sure it made their Winter the most coziest one ever.

This year, I might buy a new one, but it probably won’t be lime green, and it definitely won’t feel the same, but I still find myself googling feather wreaths as I sip my morning coffee. I honestly never thought I was a wreath person, but this unexpected gift really changed my mind, and now I can’t wait to find another one to hang in my front window…

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A more subdued feather wreath from West Elm. This is for the elegant, the quiet nod to controlled eccentricity (and perhaps even for use year round?)

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This Acorn wreath from Duncraft is so unexpected, and would easily last quite happily from Fall to Spring on your Front door.
(p.s. don’t store this where the mice can get it)

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Such a small and simple wreath deserves to be noticed.
Beautiful in its simplicity, this was handmade by Liz over at I Heart Naptime.

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Often used for decorating fancy parties and weddings, this boxwood wreath will last for months, and cheer up every cold, dark Winter’s day.

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Is there anything that we can’t buy over at Etsy?
(This birch twig wreath, decorated with natural cotton blossoms, is worth every penny!).

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I don’t know if I have favorite, but this one from Dried Decor comes pretty close. I wouldn’t put it outside (but then again, it is made of bird feathers, and birds do live outside) but wherever you hang it, it will get noticed
(and your friends won’t be able to resist petting it…).

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/

front-door-multi-colors

With Fall sprinkling the first yellow leaves onto my garden, I suddenly see a million things that need to be done. Some days, my attention bounces from one thing to another, imagining what I should be doing, while also getting lost in the moment (like being distracted by a small, red salamander, or wondering why I have a leak in my ceiling when the sun is shining down so brightly).

Today is one of those days; I walked the dog, dug up some weeds, threw down some flower seeds (then realized I should have waited until Spring), cleaned the garage, dragged some branches as far as I could, moved an outdoor table until the leg fell off, watched the red salamander, painted the back door, cleaned the grill, then came inside to work. All before noon.

Wait a moment, before you stop reading, don’t be too impressed; none of them were done well, and most weren’t completed, but my jumbled approach satisfied that urgent need to feel the cool change in the weather, get my hands dirty, and move a few things around.

It is so easy to get lost in what we think we should do. We decide we must have the perfect tool for the task, the right type of gardening clothes, and simply can’t do anything until we have the exact amount of hours left in a day. But that is just silly; life never goes as planned, we get distracted or tired, and we catch ourselves endlessly waiting to do the simplest of things.

Settling sounds so awful, but in the land of home improvements (and decorating) striving for perfection is even worse; it’s the ugly sister of settling. A word that is almost like a stop sign on the road to getting things done. I hear someone imply it, and I catch my breath, knowing that it is going to be a long time before something happens (if ever). Of course, there are things that can’t be skimped on, and should be done perfectly – your walls should be fairly straight, and the leaky faucet can’t be fixed with a dollop of chewing gum and hope, but there are many things that fall quite happily into the good-enough category.

I tend to start with a list of my ideas, then when I get stuck I whittle it down to random intentions. Random intentions seem a little kinder, and definitely more forgiving. They give me a moment to focus on what is really important (and what can I do myself – today) rather than procrastinating about a fantasy list of distant “What if’s”.
Definitely a bit of a Dr. Seuss mentality, but next time you find yourself wondering what to do, or where to begin with your DIY project, why not take perfection out of the equation, and figure out the quickest and easiest way to get (almost) there …

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/
Photograph from: Australian Pinterest

Salad and Symmetry

salad organized neatly
People tease me for not liking salad, but I actually do enjoy vegetables, and while I have a similar aversion to decorations that match, a beautifully symmetrical room will always make my heart beat a little faster.

Symmetry is the sigh of relief in a room; the elusive thing that often makes no sense, but can take a mash-up of unexpected pieces and turn them into the most exquisite combination of comfort.It’s a small detail, that bounces and balances what you have around the room, in a fluid, joyful movement; a harmonious dance of design and personality.

 
A symmetrical room feels more interesting, and the trick is to balance what you have, without following straight lines.
Play with opposites, balance a heavy piece with several small one’s on the opposite walls.
Try to think more about shapes and sizes rather than finding things that look alike.

If it doesn’t look right, change it, or take it down. Move things around until it feels comfortable to you. Don’t be afraid to hang a picture too high (or too low) or change the use of a favorite piece (if your china cabinet looks better with linens in it, on the second floor landing, that’s okay…).

When everything matches we become afraid to move anything. Our rooms feel so done, that we don’t want to disturb them, and we have an almost illogical fear that we might forget where everything was. Why that matter’s so much I don’t know, but it also stops us from seeing what we have. If all we see are lots of straight lines and a pair of matching lamps, our brain shuts down, and it becomes bored. So it’s kind of a double whammy; we don’t want to move things, and we aren’t inclined because we barely even see them any more.

But, if we combine some symmetry with a little bit (just a little) of matching, we will get over our fear of movement, and our home will still be interesting, beautiful and composed – like a designed salad.

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/
Photograph from http://abduzeedo.com/neatly-organized-life

DIY Paint Adventures

Giraffe - painted

I would never profess to be a painter, but I am not afraid to open a paint can and dab away at a boring room or an old piece of furniture. The lack of fear doesn’t necessarily make me do a good job, it just means that I am not afraid to try, and if I mess up, it is my own home, and I’ll try my best to fix it.

From small picture frames to bedrooms and countertops, I have learned that painting is an unpredictable process (and there is a lot of “p’s” in this sentence). Just when I think I have it all figured out, the color will not be as expected, a paint can will rust without warning, or I will accidentally spray sunshine yellow all over my new, black shoes.

Some things are best left to the professionals, but before you make the call there are a few DIY paint repairs and ideas that you really (really) can do yourself.

FRESHEN UP BIKES, LIGHT FIXTURES, PICTURE FRAMES, CANDLESTICKS, DECORATIVE DISHES, CHAIRS ETC

Spray paint is a great, fun fix for old and dated items. Just remember to practice a bit first; give it light, slow sweeping coats (too heavy and saturated will make it drip) and I find that it is best to always do it outside (the mist can reach much further than you can ever imagine) wear old clothes and shoes, and put up newspapers or tarpaulin to protect your deck, patio, fence etc. Personally, I do any spray paint projects on the grass, away from the house, then mow over it.

For old chairs, dressers and tables, you can either sand and saturate them with paint, use a very dry brush to give them a worn, antique look, or rub and dab on some diluted color with a damp cloth to see what happens. I wouldn’t do this on anything too precious, but painting a flea market find, or refreshing an outdated piece, is a good way to while away a few hours.

FIX CORNER NICKS

You know those little annoying corners that you and the children bang into, and because the room has been painted so many times it chips off sometimes? Just spot paint them. If you have extra house paint, use that to dab onto the corner nicks, but if not, try mixing some colors from your kids paint box, or go to the craft store and look for a paint color that matches. It doesn’t get much wear, so it doesn’t have to be the exact right type of paint. Layer it, let it dry for a few hours, then add another. Three or four times should be plenty. Use a cotton bud, eye shadow sponge, your finger, or a small art brush. It will wear off again over time, but it will be a good fix for a year or two, and saves repainting the entire room.

WATER DAMAGE STAINS

This is for old, you-are-sure-the-water-and-the-walls-and-ceiling-have-really-dried-out stains because if you paint while they are still damp, you will lock in the moisture and cause a heap of trouble. Use a stain blocker (in a similar or identical color to the ceiling or wall) and dab it onto the stain. I find that a damp cotton cloth is often easier than a brush, and several light layers are better than one, as you can feather it as you go, and it won’t be as new looking. If it is in a very obvious place, try diluting the paint with a little water (if it is water based) dabbing it on gently, then letting it dry. Leave it for a day, then see what you think. Even softening the look of the stain will make a world of difference.

DOOR KNOBS, LIGHT SWITCH COVER AND HARDWARE

I have painted all of my light switch covers, and most of my door knobs. The outside door knobs I painted with an antique copper finish, and the light switch covers I paint to match whichever room they are in. It is ridiculously easy, makes your home look a little more personal, and lasts until it wears off – which by my estimation is coming up on twenty five years.

A few DIY Paint Notes:

  • I find that the original spray paints are the best quality, and have more staying power than the new, more specialized finishes.
  • Sometimes, it is easier to spray a bit of paint onto a plastic plate, then paint from that with a small (disposable) brush. If you do this, be prepared, as it dries quickly and is quite sticky.
  • I have had no luck with the paint that is made exclusively for plastics – it chips off at the first sign of use.
  • Rustoleum Chalkboard Paint is always in my closet. I have used it to paint my chandelier (which is brass, and I didn’t even prime it first), the stand of my floor lamp, my walls (several upstairs and downstairs), labels on Mason Jars, my bathroom floor (with a polyurethane over it for durability) and my outside light fixtures and lamp post.
  • Acrylic paint will wash off your hands with soap and water (and dries within a few hours). Oil based and Spray Paint is a lot more difficult to get off your skin (wear gloves) and can take a few days to dry.
  • No matter what google says, sometimes paint is impossible to remove from your clothes, hair and shoes.
  • When painting anything near electricity, turn the power off, cover the outlet or socket with painters tape, and paint carefully with a brush rather than using a spray (which could easily get inside the wiring).
  • If you’re not confident in the beginning, just try a very small, easy fix; the worst that can happen is that it doesn’t work, but the best is that it will.

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/
Amazing giraffe art from: http://quotesgram.com/giraffe-amazing-quotes/

And for many people, that still means back to school time. So if you’re interested in going back to school to learn a new business, start a new career, or add a new service to your current business, we’ve got you covered! Check out the classes and workshops below for some great opportunities.
 
September also means our webinars are back! And we start out with a great one with Bryan Short of The Sewing Loft of Avon will share with us “Avoiding Pitfalls and Selling Custom Window Treatments”. 
And if you’re really ready to re-charge and re-focus, join us for our conference September 22nd – 23rd in Norwalk, CT! A great opportunity to learn, grow, connect, or reconnect with a fabulous group of designers and stagers!
Interested? Then read more . . .

Visits with a Chair

floral armchair 1
I never took it flowers, or dressed up in my fanciest of clothes, but every week I would go to the old antique shop, say hello to the lady behind the counter, and walk upstairs to visit the chair. She said I was allowed to sit on it for as long as I wanted, but I never stayed more than fifteen or twenty minutes.

It was called a chair and a half; crowded inbetween the plastic flowers and the used books, the chair was covered in a riot of faded flowers and had seen better days. It was squishy in all the right places, fit me perfectly, and just seemed to teeter over the wrong edge of my budget.

She said that no-one would buy it because it wasn’t new, and it wasn’t as trendy as it used to be, but I still loved it. Why wouldn’t everyone want to put their feet up on a giant chair, and feel completely enveloped in comfort? Perhaps it reminded me of Alice in Wonderland, being a bit disproportionate for the average person, but delightfully dreamy for the rest of us.

One day, I went to visit, and the shop was closed. With no warning, my visits had abruptly ended, and the chair had disappeared. I do wish I had bought it, because it just suited me, and unless I am in a waiting room or sitting at my desk, I really don’t enjoy sitting up straight.

For a while, the loveseat was everything, and you could barely buy a sofa without one, but I never quite got the concept; it seems too big for one person, but too small for two, so what is the point? A chair and a half, while still taking up quite a bit of room, seems far more useful to me. It doesn’t imply you are waiting for someone else, it is the perfect spot to spend a quiet hour or two, you can squeeze an extra person in if you want, and yet it doesn’t look lonely when it is empty.
The chair and a half, while having one of the silliest name’s ever, might just be my most favorite piece of furniture…

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/
Photograph from Connie-livingbeautifully