Remembering Athens…

As summer begins, the warm weather makes me think of my travels to Athens, Greece.

Street in Athens facing Hadrian's Arch

Street in Athens facing Hadrian’s Arch

Architecture of Athens

Architecture of Athens

In spite of the hustle and bustle of tourists, wild dogs and native Athenians, the beauty of ancient Greece shines through.

Hadrian's Arch

Hadrian’s Arch

The Plaka is an open air market at the foot of the Acropolis near the ancient market area of Athens, the Agora. If you know how to haggle over prices, you can find great souvenirs without spending too much.

The Plaka (open air market)

The Plaka (open air market)

After a day spent souvenir hunting you can relax at one of the Plaka’s restaurants for a good Greek meal.

Outside restaurant near The Plaka

Outside restaurant near The Plaka

Antique/junk store at the Plaka

Antique/junk store at the Plaka

The steps are ancient and the slope is steep but the long walk up to the Parthenon offers this view (below) as an award.

The Parthenon

The Parthenon

The Pediment of the Parthenon

The Pediment of the Parthenon

Notice (below) that the columns of the Parthenon are not a single solid piece but several drums placed on top of one another and originally covered with a veneer to give the illusion of it being a single piece.

Ionic column of The Parthenon

Ionic column of The Parthenon

The Acropolis (high city) is best known as the home of the Parthenon, but it also contains the beautiful temple of Athena Nike, the Erechtheion, and the famous Propylaia (the front gate), the complex of columns and rooms at the entry to the Acropolis.

The Erechtheion with the porch of the Caryatids

The Erechtheion with the porch of the Caryatids

At the foot of the Acropolis lies the Theatre of Herodes Atticus (below) and the Theatre of Dionysus, where the famous plays of Aeschylus, Euripides and Sophocles were first performed.

The Theatre of Herodes Atticus

The Theatre of Herodes Atticus

The area around the theatre of Dionysus

The area around the theatre of Dionysus

The Acropolis is just as beautiful at night as it is during the day.

The Acropolis at night

The Acropolis at night

This wonderful restaurant (below) on the very edge of the Roman era forum in Athens had food to match the glorious setting.

The Roman Forum

The Roman Forum

Even when the sun goes down the beauty of ancient Athens shines.

Eating dinner at dusk in the shadow of the Acropolis.

Eating dinner at dusk in the shadow of the Acropolis.

Che Figata FRIDAY! (that’s cool, in Italian)

My husband was recently in Aarhus, Denmark at the Nordens Folkekokken restaurant. He knew I love cool things. He spotted this very simple candle décor and took a few snapshots for me.

IMG_3650The restaurant used two white wine glasses, crossed the stems and inserted tea lights.

So simple yet so cool.

I love how they use any glass that is available. Why complicate things?

Che figata!

My “française provincial” furniture redo

I recently stumbled upon the work of designer Pamela Pierce. I love her calm neutrals, over-sized dramatic antiques and her light and airy approach of the French Provincial aesthetic.

It was these striking images of Pamela Pierce’s refined yet rustic provincial style that inspired me to take on my own “francaise provincial” furniture redo.

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Fifteen years ago before I moved to the east coast, my father had given me a china cabinet he picked up at a Bay Area auction house. I bought the currently popular Annie Sloan’s chalk paint and wax. Using the colors Country Grey and Old White, I attempted to transform this piece into a rustic French provincial work of art.

IMG_3374I began by painting the entire piece with the Country Grey.

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I painted two coats of the Country Grey. Once the base coat was dry, I then painted the entire piece with a coat of Old White.

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I hate using painter’s tape, so I used a small paint brush to get into corners and curves and around the glass panes.

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Once the Old White was dry, I then waxed the entire china cabinet with Annie Sloan’s clear wax. Surprisingly, I noticed an instant transformation. The base coat of Country Grey along with the texture of the brush strokes began to be revealed through the Old White.

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Base coat and texture revealing itself

Base coat and texture revealing itself

Then, according to Annie Sloan’s own instructions, I wiped the wax with a cloth.

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I also used her technique of painting the hardware as well. I was too lazy to remove it all and also wanted to add a little shabby-chicness.

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I then sanded the corners and edges to reveal the base coat Country Grey through the top coat of Old White.

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finalpiece

I love my “française provincial” furniture redo! Inspired by the refined and rustic beauty of Pamela Pierce’s French provincial design aesthetic and using Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint, I created a timeless and classic work of art that I will cherish for years.

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J’aime le chemin de table en toile de jute!

J’aime le chemin de table en toile de jute! I love a burlap table runner! I saw one in Pottery Barn recently for $69.00 USD. Rather than buy it, I decided to knock-it-off!

Burlap can add a rustic or cottage feel to an elegant table.

A burlap runner placed over a white linen tablecloth exudes an organic simplicity.

Burlap can be dressed up or dressed down. You can leave as is, paint on it, add a lace trim or monogram it.

It can be incorporated into a provincial exterior or a modern interior.

I love the french country tablescape (below) layering burlap with linen and lace.

A burlap table runner can be kept simple, have fringe or sewn.

I like the white burlap (below) on a dark wood table.

Because my dining room table is made from a dark wood, I decided to buy a white burlap. I simply cut it and pulled strands off the edges to make a fringed border.

My own burlap table runner!

My own burlap table runner!

J’aime le chemin de table en toile de jute!

Che Figata FRIDAY! (That’s Cool, in Italian!)

I love this idea (above) of painting an enormous letter (or your initial) on one wall. Che figata!

Unique twist to an ordinary bookcase! Bring the outside inside in a unique way by wallpapering the wall behind a bookcase with a nature-oriented theme. Great way of emphasizing a “green” home.

Love these tiebacks (above). Add a modern and industrial touch with out-of-the-ordinary hardware. Che figata!

I love the chandeliers (above) from Pascal Delmotte and below from Arren Williams Design Lab. Simple, modern and elegant… and very cool.

Another cool feature from Pascal Delmotte (below) is to incorporate natural elements like rocks or boulders into your interior design. Very organic and modern and very cool.

Tee Se-itse (Do-it-yourself in finnish) TUESDAY

I came across this easy and convenient diy. If your family is like mine, we can never find matches. I love this idea of placing wooden matches in a mason jar and placing sand paper on the top. It will look so cute on a mantel. And, it’s so convenient.

Another cute Tee-se-itse (do-it-yourself) project is to create your own art. But you don’t need to buy an expensive stretched canvas. Just buy a roll of canvas, paint it with colors that coordinate with your room (or add a pop of color) and hang. So artsy!

 

Inexpensive Decor Ideas

If you’re anything like me:  you love and appreciate interior design and décor but the practicalities of life get in the way, specifically money. Here are some inexpensive décor ideas that I think you’ll love.

From  Lina pa Landet (above and below) comes the inexpensive idea of using an old door as a headboard and a simple wine crate as a nightstand. Inexpensive while also being modern and cool.

You can also use simple frames and rope or twine for wall décor (also above), without worrying about the expense of prints and mattes.

From My Scandinavian Home, I love the idea of a simple branch with a simple garland or string of white lights being transformed into wall décor (above). And the star made from twigs is an easy diy project.

Using paper lanterns (above) is another cheap way to add texture and interest.

Make your own artwork. Knock-off artwork you see in magazines or in galleries (I like the image above). A simple white canvas with paint or colored paper can add a modern and original touch.

I love the idea of bringing the outside in (above). Use tree branches for art. Adds a modern 3-dimensional touch.

www.hgtv.com

www.hgtv.com

From HGTV comes an easy and inexpensive décor idea:  use rope or twine to hang curtains. Adds a fun rustic feel!

Another way to “bring the outside in” is to use a log or tree stump (above) as an end table.

Can’t afford expensive dining chairs? Find miscellaneous chairs at estate sales, consignment stores or thrift stores and paint them all the same color.

Again, using thrift store finds and old wooden crates (above), a room can be fabulous.

Decorating with rocks, sand and pebbles is an easy and inexpensive way to fill up a sparce space.

Incorporating iron gates and ladders (above) and other unusual elements adds a rustic and unexpected touch.

Use your own old books or find some at thrift stores and paint them all white. Stack and glue. Voila! A stack of old books becomes a night stand. Love this idea!

Take a simple pallet (above), paint it and attach industrial wheels. Great coffee table! Or stain it and use it as a display rack for dishes (below).

Use a simple inexpensive string of lights (usually on sale at the end of a season) in place of an expensive lamp. Very modern.

Great idea to use wooden skirt hangers (above) or metal clasps (below) to display art.

I love the idea (below) of using an ordinary ladder as a bookcase.

I hope you are inspired by these inexpensive decor ideas to create your own masterpieces. I will definitely be knocking-off some of these unique low-cost design concepts myself.

OPA! Greek Festival Decor

My church’s Greek Festival is rapidly approaching. To make things a little more festive, I volunteered to create some unique decorations.

opafestivalflyer

With the approval of the Festival’s chairperson and committee, I decided to make 4 ft. x 8 ft. panels from plywood. My daughter and I began by painting them all white with a primer/sealer.

After researching Greek scenes and clipart online, I sketched out four different scenarios on paper, which included churches, a windmill, a tavern and monuments in Athens. With pencil, I lightly repeated the sketches on the painted plywood. Then using a royal blue paint, I outlined the images.

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I decided to keep the images simple using a blue and white theme with a little bit of other colors added. The blue and white is reminiscent of Santorini.

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I had to overcome a few obstacles to get these panels done. Because our basement is being renovated, I couldn’t paint in my old spacious studio/office/basement without having to combat flies and bugs and wind. I had to work in our driveway in between bad weather, contractors asking me questions, and kids coming home from school. I also wanted to get these done quickly because my calendar was filling up with end-of-the-school year kids’ activities/commitments. I completed this project in 4 days. Needless to say, I spent the 5th day recuperating!

Opa! Greek Festival Art Panels.

Opa! Greek Festival Art Panels.

I let my kids help with some of the easier images. My daughter Julia painted the green trees in the Athens monument panel and my son, Constantine filled in the cobblestones. My 12 year old son Nicholas wasn’t really into helping.

Greek Taverna

Greek Taverna

 

Monuments of Athens

Monuments of Athens

Greek Windmill

Greek Windmill

Santorini churches

Santorini churches

I hope you like my Opa! Greek Festival Décor. I think they added a little bit of a Greek atmosphere to the festival (below).

greekdancers

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www.nj.com/hunterdon-county-democrat