Alpine Design

On a recent vacation to the California Sierras I was admiring the rustic, natural look of the Alpine design asthetic. I love the primitive, woodsy approach that fits perfectly into a mountain setting.

Natural elements like stone and branches add a minimalistic quality.

Large planked wood can add that Alpine touch.

Creative touches using natural elements can be fun rustic additions.

Antlers are an easy way to give a mountainous feel.

I love adding a modern twist with sheepskin throws.

Flannel touches with primitive designs are a must!

Traditional rugged items like leather, reclaimed wood and trophy heads can give a chic alpine look.

Wood, wood and more wood mixed with a modern approach.

Go Alpine chic with furry throws and a white color palette.

 

Decorating With Pine Cones

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J’aime des pommes de pin!  Translation:  “I love pine cones!” They are one of nature’s most exquisite yet simple design elements. In preparation for the holidays, I searched the globe for some of the most beautiful and unique decorating ideas using des pommes de pin.
Create a simple and organic look using a base of twine as featured on Carnets de Daniele. An oversized spool of thread would work just as well for that avid seamstress. I also love the use of twine in the garland with red felt hearts from Vechernie-posidelki. The rope and burlap bow (below), “toute simple, avec de la corde brute et des rubans ou de la dentelle dans des coloris assortis”  and the natural garland of pine cones, small birch branches and bleached wood is also from Comme Un Air de Fete. Very creative and yet a very easy diy project.
Large, oversized pine cones add punch to a centerpiece. Spraying them white and pairing them with white orchids, amaryllis bulbs or Aurelian Lilys Liliums adds elegance to any tablescape (as featured below). From The Junior League of Palo Alto-Mid Peninsula Holiday House Tour.
Using a burlap runner and natural-colored pine cones keeps it clean, organic and a bit rustic. From The Natural Wedding Company. Je l’adore!
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Displaying pine cones in antique silver bowls, trays or mercury glass containers combines the simplisticness of nature with timeless elegance. Spraying them white or metallic adds to the splendor.

Want to keep it simple? By simply placing pine cones in a natural-looking container such as ordinary terra cotta planters, a wire basket, garden pots or wooden bowls (with or without mistletoe and pine needles) their innate beauty is revealed. Ou tout simplement….

From Comme Un Air de Fete

From Comme Un Air de Fete

From Et a part ca

From etpartca.canalblog

 

The Farmhouse, Princeton NJ

The Farmhouse, Princeton NJ

Using pine cone pieces to create other objects adds a very unique and fun twist to the season. Here are some examples from one of my favorite stops, The Farmhouse Store in Princeton, New Jersey.

Farmhouse pine cone bear

Pine cone bear

Pine cone deer

Pine cone deer

Add a touch of elegance while keeping that rustic undertone with small pine cone snowflakes and ornaments suspended from twine on a Christmas tree. Or, incorporate a string of gems or beads with pine cones from your chandelier. Adding a clean white ribbon to a pine cone wreath definitely adds a feel of sophistication. Lace can add an accent of femininity or a relaxed homey feel.

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From Maisonsdumonde.com

From Comme Un Air de Fete

From Comme Un Air de Fete

From La Maison d'Annick

From La Maison d’Annick

 

From Shelterness.com

From Shelterness.com

snowyminipineconewreath@bd

From Billard Designs

Pine cones can also be incorporated into a unique and personal Holiday gift. I love using them along with natural greens as an accent piece to wrapping paper. Mes Petites Mains Magazine features pine cones on winter wedding favors.

Mes Petites Mains Magazine

Mes Petites Mains Magazine

For the friend who loves nature, these pine cone candle holders are a unique and rustic gift. They aren’t too expensive either – only $20 USD for the pair from Ballard Designs.

Ballard Design

Ballard Designs

A unique gift you can make yourself (as featured on C’est bientot noel) are pine cone fire starters. Just add a personal label or place them in a small gift box or basket that can be placed on a fireplace hearth. Tres Cozy!

firestarterfromcestbientotnoel.com

From cestbientotnoel.com

From cestbientotnoel.com

You can also purchase an inexpensive glass hurricane, insert a candle or tea light and accent with twine and pine cones! Very cute. A gift any home décor lover would adore.

From Comme Un Air de Fete

From Comme Un Air de Fete

Another unique gift that my daughter and I want to try and make are pine cone earrings. Our neighborhood is full of tiny pine cones. We may even keep a pair for ourselves!

pineconeearrings A garland of pine cones hanging from a clean white ribbon, twine or  burlap is a beautiful and simple accent. Add a personal touch by painting the pine cones in colors to match your own décor.

From Twig and Thistle

From Twig and Thistle

CommeUnAirDeFete.com

CommeUnAirDeFete.com

Try creating a wreath with pine cones in an unusual shape (heart or star instead of just a circle) and incorporate mistletoe, berries, cinnamon sticks or evergreen branches.

From alittlemarket.com

From alittlemarket.com

I hope you enjoyed my collection of unique des pommes du pin creations. I am now globally inspired to tackle some knockoff pine cone projects for myself. Let me know what you think. I would love your input. J’aime des pommes du pin!

La Bella Autunno… Fall Leaves Garland

Autumn Leaves GarlandAhhh! What a beautiful autumn season we are having here in Princeton, NJ. Just yesterday, on my way back from meeting my kids’ school bus, my kids and I noticed a gorgeous colorful tree. While my youngest was busy kicking and scampering through the leaves, my daughter and I picked up some of the most beautiful fall leaves.

Beautiful Fall leaves

Beautiful Fall leaves

I thought we would just display the leaves around our pumpkin/fall themed centerpiece. But when I went into my office/studio I noticed a can of polycrylic clear protective finish I was using to finish off some bedroom furniture I had recently painted. Hmmmm? Could I use that polycrylic finish to somehow capture la bella autunno we had just witnessed? Here is what I came up with…

First, I laid out all the beautiful leaves we had collected and applied the clear gloss polycrylic finish to each side of the leaves, allowing approximately 3 hours of drying time for each side (with the help of a fan).

Applying a polycrylic finish

Applying a polycrylic finish

Secondly, I cut off the stems, and using a hole punch, punched holes at the base of each leaf.

Cutting the stems off

Cutting the stems off

Punching a hole in each leaf

Punching a hole in each leaf

I then tied twine on each leaf looping it through the punched hole.

Tied a loop of twine on each leaf

Tied a loop of twine on each leaf

After putting a twin loop on each leaf, I laid the leaves out in a row and ran another long piece of twine through each loop.

Running twine through each loop

Running twine through each loop

And there you have it. I’m bringing la bella autunno inside my home with this unique and festive fall leaves garland. If I pack it away carefully in tissue paper, I’m hoping to enjoy for many years to come. But, I’m sure this same technique could be done with artificial leaves as well.windowgarlandwithlogo

The Beauty of Patmos

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I recently visited the beautiful island of Patmos, Greece. I was in awe of the breathtaking splendor of its magnificent charm. Patmos is a small island on the Aegean Sea and is one of a cluster of ten islands (Dodecanese) southeast of mainland Greece.

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The island’s main attraction is the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian and the cave where John the Evangelist was inspired and wrote the Book of Revelations. Hence, it is an island of Orthodox faith and devotion.

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On a long walk along Patmos’ jagged coastline I discovered bits and pieces of paradise.

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The island is enveloped in quaint picturesque architecture that is typical of the Greek style.

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Blues and whites along with a natural earthly hue dominate the landscape. The colors depicted on walls, windows and canopies contrast exquisitely with the blossoming clusters of flowers, the Aegean sea and the ultramarine sky.

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The simple yet exquisite island landscape emulates perfectly the ethos of the Greek culture. Say a simple “para kalo” (please) or “efcharisto” (thank you) and you’re invited into a relationship and have made a friend for life.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed my modest depiction of the beauty of Patmos. For more information, I would recommend visiting http://www.patmos-island.com/

 

 

 

Adirondack Style

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We recently took a trip to Lake George, NY for a short family vacation. In between the wave running, the tour of Fort William-Henry, the miniature golf and swimming in the lake, I got to do one of my favorite activities, WINDOW SHOP! I love seeing home décor items that uniquely express a particular place. There was definitely alot to see in Lake George!

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I love this rectangular lamp (above) that has various sizes of branches surrounding the base. I found it at the Indian Tepee Gift Shop in Bolton Landing, a little town just north of Lake George Village. It has all kinds of rustic goodies, like the items below that really accentuate the Adirondack style.

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Another wonderful gift shop is the Trees Adirondack Gifts and Books. It is also in Bolton Landing. It features a wonderful array of home décor items, art by local artists, books and jewelry. I spotted this wonderful antler chandelier (above).

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A unique and rustic decorating idea that I spotted at Trees Gift Shop was this branch hanging from the ceiling. It was lined with miniature white lights. What a wonderful yet simple way to add a natural-looking sparkle to a room. Great addition to a country-themed Christmas décor.

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Here’s another unique floor lamp that incorporates the antler design. This would be a wonderful conversation piece with a rustic flair!

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There was yet another great Home Decorating store that I ran into while visiting the town of Bolton Landing. It was called Next Summer. It features supplies for the lake house. I just adored it’s modern edge to a traditional concept.

The beautiful Lake George area had a bounty of indigenous decorating items for the home, lake house or your pinterest board. I adored window shopping and drinking in the natural and rustic perspective of wonderful little home decorating stores that exquisitely feature the Adirondack style. I encourage you to visit this picturesque and creative area yourself!

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Hanging log swing outside a restaurant in Bolton Landing.

Deck at the Algonquin Restaurant at Chic's Marina

Deck at the Algonquin Restaurant at Chic’s Marina

 

Lake George

Lake George

 

Lake George beaches

Lake George beaches

From Ordinary Log to Living Room Art

Because of the many storms and infamous hurricanes here on the east coast, our neighborhood has ended up with quite a few downed trees. As a result, various tree companies and ambitious chain-saw toting neighbors deposited an unending supply of firewood on our curbs. You can only chop so much wood and make so many patio end tables! With the assistance of my daughter, I decided to take one ordinary log and transform it into a work of living room art.

We began by stripping the log’s bark and sanding it down.

Log 1

We went through quite a bit of sandpaper. The hand-held electric sanders are wonderful for small jobs as ours.

Then, with acrylic paints in hand, my daughter painted only the top end with a contemporary abstract design dictated by the natural rings and grains. We made sure that the colors used would complement the already existing color scheme of our living room.

log 2

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Once the paint was allowed to dry for 24 hours, we then covered the entire log with a coat of clear high gloss polyurethane protective finish.

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After applying two coats of the finish and waiting approximately two days, we then turned the log over and installed the wheels. We used an electric drill first to drill holes where the screws would go and then switched to the screwdriver mode to finish the job. Having the right tools is a must to making a project easy!

log with wheels attached

I installed wheels that could lock to keep the end table in place if need be.

finish log

Our ordinary log has been transformed into living room art! It is both functional and beautiful and reflects our family’s creative individuality.

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Every time I walk through our living room, I am reminded of the enjoyable quality time I spent with my daughter making this masterpiece. It is a treasured item and work of art that is totally unique to our family. It gives a rustic and artful touch while reflecting our home’s exterior natural landscape.

 

Natural Candelabra Made From Branches!

I was doing a little window shopping this past summer with my sister and noticed a beautiful driftwood candelabra in a store window. I thought, “I can do that!” So, I went home and searched the surrounding forest for some perfect branches. Here’s how I did it!

driftwoodcandleholder

First, I found branches that were evenly shaped and similar in color.

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Then, I cut them using a mini miter saw stand and saw (from Ace Hardware – about $8.00 for the stand).

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I cut seven even branches, cutting both ends at a 45 degree angle. Each branch was approx. 14 inches long. I then used a large mat cutter and peeled off the bark. Some of the branches were already a little wet, so the bark came off easily. If it doesn’t, you can soak the branches in warm water and then peel. Let each piece thoroughly dry afterwards. I then slightly sanded each piece.

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Then, I trimmed the ends with an exacto knife to make sure they were smooth and flat.

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Then, using Quik Grips, I positioned the branches together, two at a time, and glued them using Gorilla Glue.

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Each time I glued, I let the branches dry overnight. I then scraped off any excess glue drippings with an exacto knife. Once all of the pieces were glued, I tied twine around the joints to hide any excess glue that was visible between the connected branches.

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Once all of the twine was added, I glued glass candleholders to each branch. They were .79 at AC Moore’s, .99 at Michael’s. Once I again, I used Gorilla Glue.

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I glued the glass candleholders one at a time, not all at once, and counter balanced the weight by placing a Quik Grip on the opposite side.

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Again, I cleaned up any glue drips with an exacto knife. And voila…

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Here is the finished product. My very own, unique branch candleabra! The individual branches are not all perfectly uniform is size or length, thus giving a very natural yet a bit random look. I lit the candles at my latest book club meeting (which was at my house this time) and received rave reviews. It took a bit of time, but well worth it. A very natural but elegant look! Uh oh, just noticed a few more drips of glue… exacto to the rescue!

Global handmade Pottery … and decor

One thing that inspires me when it comes to interior decor, is pottery. Pottery uniquely captures and emphasizes the images and symbols of a particular nationality. It can help to inspire an entire room. It can also help one to express his or her unique identity. Here are a few examples that I just love! First, is a polish round baker from anniekaills.com.

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polishpotteryshelf

Here a great example of decorating a home using a particular ethnic pottery collection. At thetimelesskitchen.com, Polish pottery is featured on a kitchen shelf.

 

Below, Mexican pottery features rich and vibrant colors that are warm and inviting. The mastery of Mexican pottery extends from as far back as the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

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Mexican pottery from mexicoart.org

 The bright and energetic colors featured in Mexican pottery inspired this warm and inviting patio decor. For more Mexican colorful decor, see haciendadecor.blogspot.com.

haciendadecor

French terracotta pottery replicates the colors of the Provencal countryside. Soft gray, yellow and brown hues are reminiscent of rolling hills and beautiful sunsets.

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French Aduze planters are featured on eyeofthedaygdz.com.

You’ll find the same soft hues in Provencal design. Very earthy, natural and simple. Check out decordeprovence.blogspot.com for more.decordeprovence And then there is Italian pottery. Full of color and images of the organic staples of life…olives, fruit, wine. Rich patterns, rustic yellow tones of the Tuscan countryside contrast with deep greens and vibrant blues. They illustrate the richness of Italian culture and their love for life and their connection to the earth. More colorful pottery is featured at kayellen.typepad.com.

italianpotterykayellen

 This rich yet earthy tradition is depicted in the Tuscan style of interior design. The rustic vibrancy yet serene and earthy color schemes of the Italian landscape offer a very organic and beautiful charm reminiscent of an Italian villa on a hill surrounded by olive trees. See http://www.nicespace.me for more featured images.

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There’s A Chill In The Air…

One of my favorite looks is a warm rustic living room. The combination of stone, leather, the color white and natural elements lends itself to curling up with a good book in front of the fire. The above picture was found at kristemichelini.com.