February 27, 2017

Why Decorators Like Trays


Decorators use many different Elements when they are building a Vignette or Corralling Things in a Bathroom or on a Kitchen counter.


We use them as a way to define the space for a Vignette or Collection of items.  The Tray or Base for the Vignette has a unifying effect on the whole display.  

It is especially appealing when the right elements are used together and heights are varied.

I have my assortment of trays, boxes and baskets that I like to use.

Along the way, I have found some unusual things to use as a base and I am encouraging my readers to look around and find new and different starting points for their Vignettes.

While cleaning out the Shed we found this old galvanised metal Tool Caddy.  Someone at some time crafted it.


It was full of dirt, straw, and some old rusty nuts and washers.  It was bent a bit, but I could see that all it needed was a good cleaning and a little wax to brighten it a bit.  

It had a couple of rust spots on the inside so I applied some Cold Galvanizing Compound on them.  If you decide to use this Compound on your galvanised metal just know that the colour isn't quite as nice as the original galvanised metal, but a little wax helped to tone it down.

A starting point for me is this tray with the bevelled mirror.


It is not exactly a tray, though.  You will see a latch and the remains of some hinges.

In fact, it is actually an old Medicine Cabinet Door and it is in original condition.  I simply cleaned it.

Let's look at some of the elements in this display.

* How will it be seen?  It is placed on the table and against a wall.  It will be viewed from the front and sides.


* With an asymmetrical display such as this, I like to use an odd number of elements.  I think I counted 7.

The highest point is on the right at the back.
Everything else is progressively shorter right down to the Child's white Tea Set.

* Use similar colour and varied texture to bring together disparate objects.

The colours in this display are white, green, with a little buff colour in the crockery bottle, nest, and burlap bow.


The colours are soft, but there is variety in shape and texture giving the display dimension.


The shortest element here is the Child's Tea Set.


Here you can see the Moss Egg in its Nest under the Dome.
The White Cow reminds me of the Charolais cattle that Merv kept and bred for many years.

* The various objects that you choose to use may not always be at the right height.  Sometimes you will have to prop things from underneath.  The domed nest is sitting on a cake stand.

* If I were making this to go in the middle of a table where it would be seen on all sides it would make sense to place the tallest element more towards the middle of the tray and work outward from there.

I also use this Toolbox that I made several years ago at Lee Valley Tools.  My friend and I took a one day class where we each built one.


We didn't take the class because we particularly needed the toolboxes, but because they were going to let us use a variety of power tools.  Neither of us had used all of the tools before that day.  There was a table saw, band saw, radial arm saw, router, drill press, and possibly some others that memory doesn't recall.

The class was for women and taught by two women who each made their living working with tools.  Taking the class with us was a young mother who's husband waited in the car with their baby.  When it was time to nurse the child, he would come and knock on the door of the classroom and hand over the little one to its mother.  He would return at an appropriate time to retrieve the baby.

The toolbox is narrow and would accommodate a few plant pots, a stack dishes of varying heights and pattern as in the photo, or use to present linens on a buffet table.  There are any number uses for a toolbox besides tools and more than I have mentioned.

* There are many different types of trays that can be used.  Tiered trays, wood trays, silver trays, trays without handles, tiered plate racks, mirrored trays, or just simply mirrors.  


* Think of a mantel as a tray.  The same principles that apply to styling trays also apply to the mantel.  Start at the back with the tallest elements and come forward and out to the sides.  

Sometimes I have to move or remove elements and replace them.  When you get the arrangement to where you think it might be right, stand back and have a good look.  Look at it from different angles to make sure it is what you have in mind.  There are times I sit in front of it or leave the room entirely and then go over and move it again.

It will come together, eventually.

I mostly use asymmetrical displays, but making a symmetrical display is also very nice, especially on a mantel or long surface such as a buffet.

Just enjoy being Creative.

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February 22, 2017

Trends in Decorating and What to Do With Them

What are Decorating Trends?

How Do We Use Them?

Who Decides What will be the Trend?

 When it comes to colour, companies like Pantone look around the world and assess political moods, how well the world is doing financially, and they assess natural and man-made disasters, among many other things.   They look to see what is happening in fashion, art, design, the automobile industry and increasingly the environment.

Going back to 1926 there was a correlation between the stock market and women's hemlines.  If the stock market went up, about three years later so did the hemlines.  Hemlines went down at the same rate again after the stock market went down.  That may or may not have been absolutely true, but it makes a good story and people like to believe it.

Here is the big thing to remember,  Trends are just a general tendency.  They may not be around next year, or they may be around for 10-years.  It is difficult to say which ones are staying and which ones will be gone.  

Last year Rose Quartz and Serenity were the Pantone Colours of the year.  I still see a lot of pink and it may be popular for a couple more years.  Blue is what I would call a Classic colour and so it is almost always in fashion.  In 2015 the Pantone Colour of the Year was Marsala.  Does anyone remember that?  I guess it didn't last.

I have been enjoying pink in my wardrobe and putting pink towels in my bathroom, but I don't think a pink couch is in the forecast for me, and I don't  want to paint my walls pink.

How to incorporate Trends into your present decor      When you see something you really like and want to have, think about how it will fit into your present decor.  If you have traditional styling in your home decor will a large acrylic floor lamp really fit in with what you have?   Would it fit in better with a different style?Think about practicality.  Do you remember a few years ago when very large lampshades were on trend?    Maybe you don't remember that.  They didn't last.  With so many people living in smaller living quarters these days, they were just too big to be practical.  Not every trend is going to work. When renovating or purchasing large ticket items, try to stick with classic styling.  That doesn't necessarily mean traditional styling.  It could mean contemporary styling.  Let me explain.  Many years ago I had an apartment with turquoise kitchen appliances.  I thought they were the absolute greatest, but, after two years I was glad to move.  

A new kitchen is a wonderful thing and an expensive thing.   If you make an investment in stone or quartz countertops that is also a wonderful thing.  If you pick a Rose Quartz countertop, it may not be such a wonderful thing in the long term.  You will tire of it, and then there is resale to consider.   Finishes can date a renovation.   Try to select finishes that will keep their appeal over time such as wood flooring, stone or quartz counters.  I don't see them going away anytime soon.     Classic styling is simply the styles that last the test of time.
Start small.  If it is the latest colour that you really like, buy some throw cushions, or throw blankets, candles, a bowl or two.  Try it out in small quantities to see if you really like it.    If you do like it, try some more.  It might give your home a nice visual boost.  Just remember the popularity of colours come and go so you may not want to invest too much money on a new trend right away.

This is the most important advice I can give you.  Have fun, be cautious, but not afraid, do your homework.   If you are stuck, call in a professional.  Sometimes you just need some reassurance, someone to tell you that you are going down the right path. 
If you have any questions, please contact me.  My contact information and Subscription information is below.

This Link Will Take You Directly to: Ten Decorating Trends for 2017 and Beyond


February 20, 2017

Set the Table for Your Favourite Leprechaun Plus A Recipe for Irish Stew

We are Setting The Table Green

For St. Patrick's Day

Plus a Recipe for Irish Stew



I wonder what Leprechauns like to Eat?

I think mine would eat some Irish Stew made with Lamb and Potatoes.


This is a quick set-up for St. Patrick's Day Dinner  It will be a Buffet and very casual.

My Leprechaun will be eating slices cut from a Loaf of warm Potato Scallion Bread.

He could Eat off the Creamy White Coastal plates that remind me a bit of Irish Lace and the Green and White Plates from Pier 1.

He might also like a Glass of Guinness or Glass of Wine.

Later,  a Cup of Irish Tea.  I keep it in the Little House Tea Caddy.

Happy St. Patrick's Day


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Recipe for Barbara's Favourite Irish Stew

February 16, 2017

Ten Decorating Trends for 2017 and Beyond

Fair Meadow Place

The following are My Decorating Trends.  They are Trends that I feel will be here for 2017 and beyond.

 Trends for 2017 and Beyond

   Reading Nooks                

      Carve out space in your bedroom, a corner of the living room, or under a stairway.          This is a place to unplug and unwind.  Surround yourself with your favourite books and enjoy.  This is just meant to be a little bit of added luxury and shouldn't require a renovation or a great deal of expense to achieve.

Bring in elements that make you comfortable, such as fresh flowers or pieces of art.  Add some pillows and throw blankets.  Don't forget a bookshelf or two.

Paint the space a restful colour and start catching up on your reading.

Transition Flooring

Sometimes it is hard to know where to stop and start flooring.   When one floor comes up against another a hard edge is created.

Transition flooring installations allow one product to spill over into the other product to create interesting effects.

The line between the two types of flooring products can be undulating or some interesting geometric patterns can be created.  This will cost a bit more to have installed, but the effect is great.

Mixed Metals

Designers have finally given us permission to mix metals.
Go ahead and do it.  No one will gasp and tell you it's wrong.

A word of caution:  Silver tends to be more specular (reflective) than gold and can take the spotlight away from the other metals in the room.  You can fix that by using a little less silver.   That will give the others a chance to shine.

Reclaimed Wood

Reclaimed wood comes from old buildings that are being demoed and old barns that are being torn down, plus a few other sources.

The wood that is retrieved can be used just as new materials are used for building.

Reclaimed wood is used to make furniture.

Reclaimed wood floors have become popular.
Wood that has been around for over 100-years can be very beautiful.  The wider widths of the boards are hard to find in new wood.  This is a very nice way to recycle.  

Upholstered Headboards

They seem to be staying around and why not?  They look cosy and can be incorporated easily into most decor styles.

Area Rugs in Kitchens

The look is really catching on.  This isn't the ordinary rubber-backed kitchen mat that your mother used in front of her sink.  These are the type of rugs that we might use in other parts of the house.  They create a juxtaposition when used in the kitchen and they are beautiful.

Stainless Steel Appliances 

Stainless Steel in home appliances will still be in for 2017.  I think there may be a gradual shift to black stainless steel, though.

Kitchen Cabinets

White cabinets are still in for 2017 as are apron sinks.  I believe we will see more cabinets that are mixed such as white uppers and coloured lowers.  I have also heard that there may be a return to stained wood sometime in the future.

Glass Coffee Tables

Glass Coffee tables will still be popular.

Strand Coffee Table

Global Deign Style

I think this will be trending
again in 2017.  This style incorporates finds from global travel often resulting in textured and colourful looks.  It is sort of laid-back and comfortable.

There you have it.  These are ten things that I think we will be seeing, not only in 2017 but, beyond.

Should you have any questions, please contact me.

Thank you for stopping by.


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February 13, 2017

Peonies in February

One of My Favourite Gardens Grows



I do enjoy Winter, but, sometime in February, I start to think about Gardens and June when the Peonies are blooming.  

Peonies are one of my favourite flowers, but, they don't bloom in February in my area.

All I can offer is pictures of Peonies in February.

This will be a reminder of all the lovely things to come.


The Oshawa Valley Botanical Gardens have one of the best Peony Collections with over 300 varieties.  Look for it HERE.


The flowers bloom over a period of five weeks starting around May 20.

The Festival this year is June 10 and 11, 2017 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.


The Festival dates are chosen for optimum Bloom time.
You can get more details HERE


At the Festival they have a Juried Peony Show, Vendors, Music, Photo and Art Contests, and Food Vendors.  
Also, the Matsuyama Bonsai Society 30th Annual Show will be there.


This is one of the best shows around and guess what?  It is free! 

If you can't make it on the weekend of the Festival, that's okay because you can go anytime.  I sometimes go two or three times during the bloom period so I can see as many peonies as possible.


The Peony Garden, although an integral part of Oshawa Valley Botanical Gardens, is only part of the garden.  There is always more to see.  In June though, it is the Peonies that steal the show.


This is a small glimpse of June in February.  I hope it's not too cold where you are, but, if it is maybe thoughts of Peonies in June will warm you.

You can find me on Pinterest at Fair Meadow Place.  

Thanks for visiting.


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