Posts by BHG Guest Blogger
Hi, my name is Alexandria Szwarc, and I’m so excited to be with you at Style Spotters! I am a DIY home improvement blogger at DIO Home Improvements (the DIO stands for “doing it ourselves”). Being featured in Better Homes and Gardens was a dream I never thought would become a reality!
How it happened. In January, I received an email from a Better Homes and Gardens remodeling editor asking me if I would be interested in having my kitchen makeover featured in the May issue. I had to re-read the email a few times before it hit home and I determined this was real!
After exchanging a few emails, a photo shoot date was set for two weeks later. The night before the shoot, two BHG photographers arrived at my home to do a walk through and unload their equipment for the following day. As one can imagine, I didn’t get much sleep that night with too many thoughts running through my mind.
The following morning a stylist arrived at my home. After helping to unload her car full of props, she got to work on setting the kitchen up while I got ready. A short while later, the photographers arrived and started setting up their equipment.
The day was a whirlwind to say the least! Everyone made the shoot so much fun and put me at ease since I much prefer to be behind the camera! A few hours after arriving, they had their shots and my interview was over. I sat down still not believing that in a few months my kitchen would be in the biggest home magazine there is!
A couple of weeks after the shoot, I received an email of the photo proof that would be used in the May issue. It was so hard not to share that with everyone! In April I received a package with my copies of the issue. I was beyond excited! I couldn’t wait for it to hit the stores for my family and friends to see it!
A little more about my kitchen. When I looked at my house before buying it, I cringed at the kitchen and both bathrooms, but I knew these rooms had potential. Growing up in a house that was 100 years old and full of character, one of the things I missed most about my current house was the charm that’s lacking in newer homes.
The first project I did in my kitchen was the wall opposite the door to my yard. I added interest to this area by attaching craftsman-style wainscot and making a new air return vent cover. When asked how I came up with the idea for the door on my refrigerator surround, I explained the air return vent cover I made. I loved the Union Jack sheet metal that I used in that project and thought it would look great above the refrigerator. I was also on a very tight budget and wanted to use what I already had in the house!
Another project I did in the kitchen before redoing the cabinets was building a plumber’s pipe bench. I have been obsessed with all things plumber’s pipe for about six years now.
I’ve often been asked how I came up with the idea of redoing my cabinets. The house I grew up in had 12-foot ceilings, my previous home had 10-foot ceilings, and my current home has 7.5-foot ceilings. I felt claustrophobic when I first moved in here. I wanted to make the kitchen feel taller. I was able to accomplish that by adding height to the cabinets. It worked because now I feel short in the kitchen!
I wanted to add the refrigerator surround because I felt it would make the kitchen look more custom and expensive than it actually is. After the cabinets were finished, I painted my refrigerator and range hood with appliance paint. Yes, you can paint your appliances! I also had some leftover fabric that I used to make a faux roman shade and matching roller shade for my kitchen window. You can see more of the cost breakdown and how-tos of my kitchen makeover here.
Being a part of the Better Homes and Gardens experience has been a dream come true and so much fun. You are invited over to DIO Home Improvements at any time to follow along with my projects or talk about your own projects. I love seeing readers’ before and after photos!
I would definitely call myself a “summer girl” — it’s the season I most look forward to all year long. Growing up, my end-of-May birthday usually fell during the last week of school, and even now the day represents freedom in my mind: the time to lighten up and have some fun! There’s nothing like that first dip in the pool that recalls sunny childhood memories and gets me in the mood to ditch work early for a picnic in the park complete with cold fried chicken, juicy strawberries and fresh-squeezed lemonade. This is the season for unfussy, effortless entertaining; fine china and perfectly-arranged flowers just don’t feel right at this time of year! Here’s how I set a table fit for a dinner party that captures the carefree vibe of summer.
1. Dress the table in summery textures. In the same way I might throw on shirts in fabrics like linen when it’s hot outside, think in terms of light, breathable materials like cotton and linen when dressing your table for a dinner party. I have a collection of light blankets from India and Mexico that I repurpose as the most gorgeous tablecloths — their vibrant colors and textures feel festive without trying too hard, and are bold enough to set the tone for an entire celebration.2. Incorporate elements that feel like summer vacation. There’s nowhere I’d rather be than at the beach, and since my home in Austin is pretty landlocked, I’ve always been obsessed with collecting textures and shapes that recall marine life: the wild shapes of sea coral, spiral patterns of shells and roughness of sand are all so beautiful. I place elements I’ve scavenged from past beach vacations around the house to instantly take me away, and place them on the center of the table for a simple, 2-minute centerpiece.
3. Celebrate color! Summer is when I really embrace color on the table. I usually choose either all cool shades (blues, greens, lavender), or all warm shades (pinks, reds, oranges), and then go to town! Layer different patterns like florals and stripes in striking color combinations for a bold look, then pile on vibrant dishes, mismatched napkins and colorful cocktails. I love pieces that incorporate textural or exotic touches like woven Guatemalan patterns or Indian-inspired tassels to satisfy the wanderlust that strikes more frequently in the summertime. If the minimalist in you is cringing at the thought of all that color, try sticking with a neutral palette and adding one vibrant pop. My bright teal tablecloth always makes a statement in our dining room that’s otherwise cream, white and light wood.
4. Let summer produce take center stage. Summer is a constant reminder of the earth’s generosity: just take a stroll past farmers market stalls brimming with juicy peaches, heirloom tomatoes in every shade, and summer squash begging to be tossed on the grill and devoured. Set out a big platter of your market haul – a colorful salad or sweet slices of watermelon sprinkled with sea salt – and let it play double-duty as family-style feast and beautiful centerpiece.
5. Create a glowing ambiance. As the sun sets, create a magical glow with some strategically-placed candles and lights. For my husband’s birthday party a couple years ago, we surrounded the pool with tons of votive candles that lit up the night in such an unforgettable way. String up white café lights overhead, place a few lanterns with candles inside around the patio or scatter bamboo torches filled with citronella oil along the perimeter of the yard. They’ll ward off bugs while adding light!
Raised by mothers who taught us the value of handwriting and having three children of our own, my husband and I believe there has never been a more important time to slow down and relish the power in handwriting. Our belief in the handwritten word and our desire to inspire others to write was the reason to create our blog, Brown Ink. In 2013, the site expanded to include Brown Ink Paper Goods, an online boutique featuring my favorite stationery, journals, and writing related goods, as well as my own line of letterpress stationery.
My personal line, Brown Ink Paper Goods, is a collaboration with a dear friend and letterpress printer, Jean Glenn of Pomegranate Press.
Jean and I recently sat down to design a Father’s Day card together. Our goal was to create a card to be used when celebrating the Dad in one’s life, but not exclusively for Father’s Day. Jean suggested we create a multi-colored plaid to represent a traditional father’s flannel shirt. I also had in mind the phrase Best Dad Ever. Combining the two ideas, we felt these complemented each other, a classic style with a sentimental modern twist.
Using Jean’s letterpress style and borders dating back to the turn of the century, we selected a traditional type style, Wedding Gothic from 1901. With a variety of colors to select from, we chose three colors which complement each other; stone, amazon, and ocean.
Once we decided the color, typeset and layout of the piece, Jean went to work on her Chandler & Price Platen Press which she purchased in 2002. I adore spending time in Jean’s basement filled with stacks of letterpress samples from over the years, cans of colored ink and wooden boxes filled with a few thousand metal typesets, borders and icons.
Jean first established the placement of the type for proper alignment. She also set pins in the tympan paper which holds the cards to be printed. Next, without ink, she printed a blind impression so we could proof the layout. Not completely satisfied, Jean adjusted the space between the borders to allow enough room for the written note, always checking the print was not crooked.
Finally, Jean inked up the press and printed samples to establish consistency in the ink. Having selected three colors, using vertical and horizontal lines, and then adding the text, each card passed through the printer 5 times! After printing, Jean cleans the press and type, then re-sorts the type back into their cases.
It’s an absolute gift to collaborate with my talented friend Jean who, aside from the love of printing, is passionate about both hand-touched paper goods and writing! This belief is what makes the Brown Ink Paper Goods true to its mission, the power of the written word.
Photos by Louisa Podlich
PS: Visit Brown Ink for a one-time use of 20% off with the code BH&G20
Hi! I’m Carly Cylinder, author of The Flower Chef. When I first started my floral design company Flour LA (it was going to be a café/florist at the time) nearly six years ago, I barely knew anything about design, so I’d experiment using grocery store flowers. This led to the thought that there should be an easily accessible floral design book that taught the basics. That book is called The Flower Chef and will be published next year, five years after its inception!
While we do complicated arrangements for events and weddings, my preference for at-home flowers is to stick to simple, easy designs that don’t take much time. As bad as this may be to admit, sometimes I don’t even have a proper vase or clippers on hand at my house, so I just grab whatever’s in my kitchen!
For this simple arrangement, I picked up three bunches of white flowers – daisies, larkspur (you could use delphinium, stock, or any tall white flowers), and lisianthus. Sticking to all white is classic, clean, and timeless.
10-Minute Flower Recipe
- 3 bunches of mixed white long flowers with small blossoms (lisianthus, daisies, mums, veronica, stock, spray roses, larkspur, delphinium, calla lilies, etc)
- Small rectangle vase filled ¾ way with water
- Household scissors
First, remove all of the leaves from each stem for aesthetic purposes and to keep the water clean. Then separate the bunches out by type so that you can see what you’re working with.
For a more traditional design, I make sure to keep the flowers evenly spread throughout the arrangement.
– Measure a larkspur stem against the vase, so that the length of the flower is about double the height of the vase. Cut all of the larkspur to that length.
– Place the larkspur evenly throughout making sure each stem is slightly angled.
– Cut the daisies 6’’ shorter than the larkspur. Place the daisies evenly throughout, making sure their buds are facing outward.
– Cut the lisianthus about 3-4’’ shorter than the larkspur. Group a few stems toward the center for impact, and then place a few more stems on each side, so that it feels balanced.
This design is actually quicker and is unisex. It’s perfect for someone that likes stark designs or is artistic.
– Cut each type of flower the same length as in the Traditional Design.
– Place the larkspur vertically against the right side of the vase.
– Angle in the lisianthus to the left so that the bottom of the stems are leaning towards to the right side of the vase. Work fast!
– Place the daisies to the left of the lisianthus, angling the stems towards the right side of the vase so that the blooms are sticking outward on the left side of the vase.
All of the flowers will hold each other up.
Use a juice cup, votive, or shot glass as a vase. Cut leftover flowers short so that the flowers rest of the lip of the glass. Keep flowers grouped by type and place around the home. These are perfect bathroom flowers or for a nightstand.
Tip: Keep flowers fresh but recutting the stems. Simply pick up the bouquet, keeping the design as tight as possible, and give a small trim to each stem. Dump out the old water, and add in fresh water. Place the bouquet back in the vase and adjust any stems that moved.
Photos by Matthew Cylinder
Hello! I’m Melissa from the blog, The Inspired Room. Today I’m here to talk about showing our homes a little love!
I have always been a house lover! Yep, I’m that crazy lady people honk at in the neighborhood because I’m driving reaaallllly slowly past a charming house. I’m sorry in advance if you end up behind me. I’m the woman who goes to open houses even when I’m not shopping for a new house, just because I want to snoop around to see what my neighbor’s house looks like inside! I’m sure realtors and home sellers love to see me coming. Right? I can’t help it. My love of houses is like an addiction. And I can’t help dreaming about the perfect house for me.
Can you relate?
Even if you aren’t quite as house obsessed as I am, I think most of us dream sometimes about an ideal home. The truth is, while we all probably have a beautiful dream house in our minds that we would be really happy to live in, there’s really no place like our own home.
I am excited to share with you my very first book, Love the Home You Have! TODAY is it’s official release date! It’s jam packed with practical tips, encouragement and motivation to love your home, no matter where you live.
It’s amazing what a little love can do to transform the house you have into the home you’ve always dreamed of. Best of all, it’s the little things that make a house a home.
Ready to show your home a little love? A great place to start is at your own front door!
Paint your door a pretty color that inspires you every time you see it. I painted my Benjamin Moore Wythe Blue on the outside couple of years ago and on the inside, it’s Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal. I’m happy every time I see my door, inside or out!
If you still have a crunchy Christmas wreath on the door (it’s OK if you do, I just threw out some little moldy pumpkins that were hiding behind a plant on my porch!), today would be a great day to toss remove it and treat yourself to a cheery spring bouquet. You deserve it!
I stopped in a local market this week and bought myself some flowers to fill a basket on my front door. It’s such a simple thing to do, but it changes how you feel both about your home and your life.
You can’t help but smile when you show a little love to the home you have!
To celebrate the launch of Love The Home You Have, we are offering you a chance to win one of five books! To enter for a chance to win, comment below on why you would like to win! For a second entry, follow @BHG on Twitter and tweet using #BHGInspiredRoomSweepstakes
Find more ways to love your home, download the cute illustrated quotes from the book and details on how to order Love the Home You Have right here.
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and D.C., 21 years and older. Begins: 12:01 a.m. ET on 03/31/15 and ends at 11:59 p.m. ET on 04/01/15. Subject to Official Rules available at http://www.bhg.com/blogs/better-homes-and-gardens-style-blog/ and/or www.twitter.com/bhg. Void where prohibited. Sponsor: Meredith Corporation. This sweepstakes is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Twitter. By entering this sweepstakes, you understand that you are providing your information to sponsor and not Twitter.
THIS GIVEAWAY HAS CLOSED
Hello, hello, hello!! I’m Charlotte, and I’m the wrangler of all things chaotic over at Ciburbanity (stands for City + Suburb + Sanity). I blog about fixing up our 100 year old farmhouse, hoarding furniture in my garage, and doing it all on a budget. My approach to décor is to have fun, bring together the unexpected and take chances! I’m thrilled to be wearing my “guest blogger” nametag on Style Spotters today (there’s not really a nametag… don’t worry) to share more about my “I Did It” lavender ombre file cabinet.
Lavender. I’ve NEVER had lavender in my life. Ever. And here I was painting my whole dining room lavender. I was concerned that the lavender would be too “sweet” so I was THRILLED when I saw this industrial file cabinet on Craigslist. I had visions of dinner napkins and silverware and all things entertaining organized meticulously in each drawer. (I’ll take the fifth if you ask what’s in those drawers right now…)
I decided to bring in a paint gradient, or ombre, to liven the ol’ gal up. Annie Sloan chalk paint happened to have the perfect purple for my lavender walls: Emile. Bonus points because chalk paint requires no prep. (Yep… no typo there. NO prep.) The hardware couldn’t be removed, but I was delighted when they shined right up with a wire brush. I painted around each handle rather than taping them allll off. For the ombre itself, I use a few combinations of Annie Sloan’s Emile, Henrietta and Old White.
Now I had a pretty new file cabinet, but it needed a little sumthin’ sumthin’ to look more dining room and less board room. In order to dress it up, I made a super simple base so that it could sit a little higher off the ground and be more like a legit furniture piece.
For a more detailed explanation of this project, see my original post: Ombre File Cabinet. To see the piece in the context of the finished shiny new dining room, here’s that post too: Lavender Dining Room Reveal.
Never in a million years did I expect my purple project to be my secret handshake into THE Better Homes and Gardens. If a mom of four could look cool twerking, then I would have tried it when I got the email about being on the “I Did It” page. (I don’t, so I didn’t.)
I wrote about the behind-the-scenes experience on my blog and can’t say it enough… what a lavender filled blast. Having a stylist and photographer in my house was excitement enough, but seeing what wily genius they brought to the final shot… so memorable. I’d like to bring them back to cast their magic on my cluttered garage… I figure they can SURELY find some way to make it pretty with the help of enough lighting and accessories, right?