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.

IMG_3373

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.

IMG_3375

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.

IMG_3379

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

IMG_3406

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.

IMG_3412

 

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.

IMG_3411

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.

IMG_3414

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

IMG_3446

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.

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!

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.

Global Design & Decor… literally!

Nothing is as classic as a map. Nothing says, “world traveler” or adventurer” more.

vohttpwww.maison-deco.comcuisinedecoration-de-tableyage_w641h478[1]

Incorporating a map into your home’s interior design is a great way to express your globe-trotting spirit. (from Elle Maison above).

httpvimandvintageblog.com

You can use wallpaper with map designs or a framed image. A vintage old-world look can accentuate a home library or the classic style of a bedroom (Vim & Vintage above) as well as offer a strong yet elegant contrast to a modern interior (Regards et Maisons below).

RegardsetMaison

I love the idea from Sfizzy (below) which literally maps out a cherished destination. What a unique way to remember a special trip, a romantic place or your family’s origin.

mappa-ricamo-personalizzato-5[1]

Want to give a unique gift to someone you love? Sfizzi commemorates special locations on a map (such as a destination wedding or marriage proposal) with a red stitched heart. So cute!

mappa-ricamo-personalizzatoRegalisfiziosi.it

Another way to add old-world charm to your décor is to decoupage a map onto furniture. I love the little blue nightstand (below) from Primitive & Proper which integrates an old Atlas map and a simple hand-painted table.

PrimitiveAndProper.blogspot.fr

ikeahackers.net

From Ikea Hackers, comes this wonderful map chair (above) using a Nordmyra chair from Ikea. She was inspired by some tables and chairs she saw in London.

http://www.domesticease.com/2010/09/19/domestic-tricks-1-map-dresser/

I love the map dresser (above) from Homedeco2u.httpwww.recyclart.org201308recycled-stools

From Recycleart (above) comes some very clever stools that were inspired from the London tube map. They feature the colors of the metro lines and locations in London.

diy-project-deco-murale-fait-tour-monde-www.paperblog.fr

From Paper Blog (above) comes a very unique decorative diy project that combines wooden letters with maps. Using your own initials and maps that point out special locations is great way to customize your wall décor.

marthastewartweddings.com

From Martha Stewart, I found these adorable ways to celebrate a destination wedding. Using a map that features the location of the marriage (above & below) on a frame, candle holders or on vases is both unique and fun.

httpwww.marthastewartweddings.com

Another cute decorative item for a destination wedding or a bon voyage party is this map heart garland from 10PaperLane on Etsy (below). You could easily make this yourself.

Ten Paper Lane onEtsy

Have an old globe in your attic, or did you find one at a thrift store? From Viaggiare Oltre comes this unique decorative bowl (below) using half of a globe. I think this would look beautiful containing simple olive tree sprigs or eucalyptus.

viaggiareoltre.blogspot.com

A great way to add a touch of New York sophistication into your décor is to knock-off these illuminating candle holders (below) also from Viaggiare Oltre. You could also use maps of Paris or Rome. Or apply the maps you actually used from a city you visited. What a great souvenir from your travels!

httpviaggiareoltre.blogspot.com201212decorazioni-natalizie-fai-da-te.html2

Applying a map to a lamp shade is another great way to celebrate a favorite location or turn a traveling companion (a map) into a treasured souvenir. I love the two map lamp shades from Not On The High Street (below). One offers a soft pale green pallet while the other contrasts it with a vintage old-world feel.

normal_map-lampshade[1]

httpwww.notonthehighstreet.comtheoldlampshed

Check out another unique way to commemorate a great trip? From Map Motifs, comes this very creative light switch cover (below). My niece gave us one that featured Thessaloniki and Halkidiki, Greece – where she visited us while we were vacationing.

etsy.comMapMotifs

IMG_2549

Our own light switch cover featuring Thessaloniki and Halkidiki, Greece.

I love the idea of incorporating actual globes into interior design. The 3-dimensional quality adds a pizzazz that a 1-dimensional map can’t do. From Benoit Vieubled comes “World Upside Down,” a chandelier like no other (below).monde-a-lenvers@www.benoit-vieubled.com

From Pinterest, comes this hanging globes light fixture (below).

hanging globe lights

And last but not least, my niece, Kathleen’s, own globe lamp shade creation (below)! She added a beaded fringe and used an antique lamp base. Beautiful.

kathleensglobelamp

There are countless ways to incorporate maps and globes into interior design and décor. From world travels or thrift store finds, global design elements emphasize adventure and an enthusiasm for life. I encourage you to share your love of travel and your favorite destinations in your own home’s décor.

La Belleza de los Olivos – The Beauty of Olive Trees

One of my favorite places in all the world is Mission San Jose, California. I grew up running around its landscape populated by sun-drenched olive trees and habit-wearing Dominican nuns. My aunt, who was a nun for 76 years, lived at the Dominican Sisters Convent which is located directly behind the Mission. Nestled at the base of Fremont’s rolling hills, the landscape encompasses beautiful olive groves. This is where I fell in love with olive trees!

The Bell Tower of Mission San Jose, CA

The Bell Tower of Mission San Jose, CA

Olive trees have a simple elegance. Their delicate leaves and their hardy fruit combine soft beauty with vibrant rich life. Some of Vincent Van Gogh’s most famous works included olive trees. Art historians believe that Van Gogh viewed the olive tree as something sacred. This perspective was eluded to in a letter he wrote to his brother saying, “The rustle of the olive grove has something very secret in it, and immensely old. It is too beautiful for us to dare to paint it or to be able to imagine it.”

Olive Trees in a Mountainous Landscape, 1889 - Van Gogh

Olive Trees in a Mountainous Landscape, 1889 – Van Gogh

The beauty of olive trees can be especially appreciated during the frigid months of winter. A simple potted olive tree inside can be a beautiful way to counter the chilly wintry landscape outside.

lifeasarts.blogspot.com

A tall potted olive plant is a beautiful addition to any interior. Placed beside a console table as lifeasarts.BlogSpot.com does (above), it adds a touch of serenity.

lookslikewhite.com

 It can also introduce tranquility in our otherwise hectic lives as lookslikewhite features above.

provedicasa.blogspot.com

From Prove di Casa (above), delicate olive plants add a “vita in cucina” (life in the kitchen) subtly pointing to the source of our sustenance.

white cat shabby chic chair via zsazsa_lambandblonde.blogspot.com[1]

From ihanuuttaarkeen.blogspot.fi

I love the simple touch of life that olive trees add. Here are some of my favorite interiors (above and below) that depict “la belleza de los olivos” – the beauty of olive trees.

From inspirewetrust.com

From inspirewetrust.com

From homebeautiful.com/au

From homebeautiful.com/au

 

From lookslikewhite.com

From lookslikewhite.com

 

Featured on akindoflove.blogspot.com

Featured on akindoflove.blogspot.com

 

From Ballard Designs

From Ballard Designs

From Pottery Barn

From Pottery Barn

From heltenkelt.elsasentoourage.se

From akindoflove.blogspot.com

From akindoflove.blogspot.com

From aboutgarden.wordpress.com

From aboutgarden.wordpress.com

Whether placed in a terra cotta planter or an industrial-looking pale, there’s no denying the simple and natural beauty that an olive tree can add to any interior. I hope you have been inspired to display things that you love and incorporate them in your own interiors. And I hope you’ve enjoyed my appreciation for la belleza de los olivos – the beauty of olive trees!

A Swedish Valentine

I love this simple berry heart (above) created by Home of Voxgirl. I decided to knock it off! She used a Swedish berry called nyponröd. I decided to use cranberries. In addition, you’ll need wire and wire cutters.

cranberries and wire globalknockoffs

I shaped and cut the wire into a heart and one by one strung the cranberries onto the wire.

stringing cranberries globalknockoffs

You can continually manipulate the wire once all the berries are strung. I added a twine bow to keep it simple and natural looking.

cranberry heart globalknockoffs

It looks so adorable hanging outside from a tree.

cranberry heart in tree globalknockoffs

I made several different sizes.

cranberry hearts on snow globalknockoffs

I paired up two berry hearts to create a stacked effect.

hangingcranberryheartsglobalknockoffs

So simple, so delicate and so easy to make. The perfect Swedish Valentine. Glad Alla hjärtans dag! That’s Happy Valentine’s Day in Swedish!

Scandinavian Trophy Head Straight From Nature

I recently spotted a very unique and natural décor item at Deco Crush. It was featured in an article called Get The Look, 10 Decorating Ideas For A Beautiful Scandinavian Kitchen (10 Idées Déco Pour Une Jolie Cuisine Scandinave). Nature holds a prominent place in the hearts of Scandinavians, and it couldn’t be more obvious than in the magnificent trophy head made from branches of wood featured in the piece.

today_i_love_white_scandinavian_kitchen

today_i_love_white_5x7

Because it captured my eye, I just had to knock it off! I first scanned the forest that surrounds our house and collected fallen branches.

IMG_2239

Then using small hand clippers/shears, I cut pieces (that were similar in width) to the same length. I looked for two branches that looked like deer antlers and two that mimicked horns.

IMG_2240

Branches that look like antlers and horns

I cut two branches to be placed horizontally (one for the forehead and one for the chin). Using hot glue, I glued the antlers and horns to both horizontal pieces.

IMG_2246

Then I glued the pieces that were similar in length and width to make up the face. I used 12 pieces total gluing them to the front and back to emphasize the 3-dimensionality.

IMG_2241Once all  the pieces were glued and dried, I sprayed a light coating of white spray paint over the entire piece to make all the branches match in color and to cover any flaws.

IMG_2248

Once the piece was dry, I hung it in my living room.

IMG_2254

I love it! Now, I have a little touch of Scandinavia in my very own home.

IMG_2253

It works well with our rustic stone fireplace and the forest outside.

IMG_2256

I love my Scandinavian Trophy Head Straight From Nature. I hope this motivates you to make one!

scandinaviandeerhead

collage

A Simple Christmas Door Hanger

I found a very basic Christmas door hanger at the Dollar store the other day for only $1.00. I knew I had burlap, pine cones and twine at home and wondered if I could take this no frills door hanger and somehow make it my own.

IMG_1551

Here’s the plain and basic door hanger…

IMG_1543

I took the twine I had and wrapped it around the circular part that was currently red and white.

IMG_1548

I left the red ribbon and bells on the door hanger. I then hung three pine cones with additional twine.

IMG_1550

Then I glued on a burlap bow I made. Voila! My own simple Christmas Door Hanger. I love it. And the best thing is… it only cost me $1.00!

IMG_1551