Category: Home

Hot House Flowers

The grocery store makes for an unexpected ally in beating winter’s blues. Spruce up your home with a few potted plants that you can find at the grocery store. To personalize these blooms to suit my style I slip the plants (pot and all) into decorative containers.

Hot House Flowers are a Breath of Spring

Forced Daffodils, Tulips and Hyacinths – The daffodils and hyacinths you buy at the grocery store can be planted in the garden after the flowers fade. Wait until the foliage dies back. I’ve not had much luck with replanting tulips because they aren’t perennial in southern gardens where springs are short. However, daffodils and hyacinths will bloom again for me the next year.

Daffodils

Cape Primroses– Maintain temperature around 60 degrees. Place pot on a tray of wet pebbles to provide humidity without overwatering.

photo credit: Eva Gruendemann

Hydrangeas – These big, colorful flowers are everyone’s favorite. While the plant is indoors keep the soil consistently moist and out of direct sunlight. After the last frost date in your area plant it outside in a partially shaded spot.

Hydrangeas

Orchids – Watering orchids can be tricky and varies depending on the type or orchid and time of year. (Water more in the summer and less in the winter.) Generally a good rule is to water every five to 12 days. Avoid wetting the leaves when watering. Dab excess water off leaves.

Orchids

November Giveaway – Indoor Plant Décor

When you hear the word “houseplant” what image comes to mind? A macramé hanging basket or maybe a dusty fern stuffed into a corner? Houseplants have gotten a bad rap for being old-fashioned and hard to care for, but I know two people who are on a mission to change that perception. In their book Indoor Plant Décor: The Design Stylebook for Houseplants my friends Kylee Baumle and Jenny Peterson take a fresh look at how to use plants in your home. I like this book because Kylee and Jenny show how container choice and plant selection help your indoor garden appear as a design detail rather than an afterthought.

You can purchase Indoor Plant Décor on Amazon.com or if you are feeling lucky leave a comment below for a chance to win a copy. I’ll select a winner on Wednesday November 20, 2013. Congrats Guinelle for winning the November giveaway!

Here’s an excerpt from the book and a few photos illustrating unconventional containers.

It used to be that indoor gardening meant a ficus tree in the corner of the living room, a pothos plant trailing from the top of the entertainment center and a row of African violets in the kitchen window. While we wouldn’t knock any plant that thrives in indoor conditions, contemporary gardening has moved far beyond the expected and traditional houseplant. Add to that the myriad of interior decor styles, and it becomes difficult to know just how to use houseplants as a part of your home’s overall design scheme. That’s where we come in. In our book we show you how to define your personal decor style, and then guide you into making stylish plant, container and accessory choices to pull it all together.

As we confessed right from the start, we kill houseplants. If you’re a gardener of any type, it’s going to happen, so check your feelings of guilt and inadequacy at the door and forge ahead. Decorating with houseplants isn’t like buying a lamp or a chair. Plants are living things, and just like human beings, they will behave in unpredictable ways and sometimes not follow the rules. But this is what keeps boredom at bay; you’ll learn more about their personalities as time goes on.

The mission of Indoor Plant Décor is to improve your confidence in choosing plants that fit your design style as well as your lifestyle. We hope you will benefit from our own adventures into the wonderful world of houseplant design. We know the amazing power plants have to transform an interior environment — even our state of mind.

If you want to get to know Kylee and Jenny visit their blogs – OurLittleAcre.Blogspot.com and JPetersonGardenDesign.com. I think you’ll find their writing is funny, introspective and educational. Plus you can see how gardens grow in two different regions. Kylee gardens in Ohio and Jenny is down in Austin, Texas.

Take a look at a few of the innovative ideas from the book.

Spring is Luncheon Season!

For more spring party inspiration read my column in this month’s issue of AY magazine. You can find it online here. Read the entire article here.

The equinox on March 20th is the official beginning of spring, which is cause for celebration don’t you think?

Hosting a get-together doesn’t need to be a lot of work, especially during this gentle season. You can make your fete memorable and keep it simple by following these helpful tips.

Venue

Use both indoor and outdoor spaces. To accommodate spring’s unpredictable weather set up the dining indoors and the pre-meal gathering outdoors. Your guests can enjoy some time in the garden, but you won’t have to scramble if the day turns out dreary.

Invitations

Be old-fashioned and send a written invitation. This extra step makes even small gatherings more special.

Menu

Luncheons are tailor-made for fresh spring ingredients like salad greens, English peas and asparagus so stick to dishes that feature the flavors of the season.

Table Setting

Spring is the most ethereal season; set a special table to reflect this feeling. Use spring-centric colors or delicate tableware to set the tone. You can’t go wrong with a white table cloth, but bright hues are a fun way to create a lively mood.

 

Add a Little Farm Chic to Your 2013

You don’t have to live on a farm to have farm chic style. Take a look at these ideas for adding a little of the pastoral to your interior décor.

Rain chains are a fun alternative to down spouts. In addition to the tradition copper you can find them made with stones, glass, and many other whimsical materials.

I love this Paul Michael Company side table made from a petrified wood. If you have a tree trunk you’d like to transform into a table allow it to dry for a month, remove the bark, and then coat in polyurethane.

One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. This “work of art” is made with old garden tools I had in my shed or found at flea markets. See more wall hanging ideas in this video.

Not enough farm chic for you? Join me on my Facebook page for Farm Chic Friday . Each week we give away prizes and share ideas for bringing a little Southern charm into the home and garden.

 

Fabulous Tobi Fairley Giveaway

Congratulations to Marilyn Herdon! She is the randomly selected winner of Tobi’s St. Nick Pillow. Woot woot!

Designer Tobi Fairley joins us today on my blog to spread some holiday cheer with a special giveaway – a pillow from her Saint Nick collection.

Hello, friends and fans of Allen!

Over at my blog, I’m giving thanks for all sorts of wonderful things in my life: people, places, opportunities, experiences, transformations, and more. I am so grateful for wonderful friends like Allen, with whom I can share big ideas about design, entertaining, food, and the outdoors! Another HUGE part of my gratitude is for the pleasure of giving, so I want to give something special to one of you this week to kick-off your holiday season!

If you leave a comment on this post telling Allen and me what you’re giving thanks for this week, you’ll be entered to win one of my Tobi Fairley Home pillows from the Saint Nick collection! The winner will be selected by random draw on Wednesday 12/05/12.

Sometimes an accent pillow is ALL it takes to make a sofa or chair festive and fun for the holiday season!

Find more inspiration from my Pinterest board: Holiday Treats & Decor

(like this sweet pic…)

Best of luck!

Xo,

Rachel Ashwell Talks Roundtop, Texas

I’ll Be Home for Christmas

Don’t worry if you can’t find a one-horse open sleigh, just be sure to get out of the house and into the spirit of Christmas! Whether you’re heading south like a snowbird or traveling to be with family for the holidays, Christmas travel is certainly more than just a destination. I spend more time than usual perusing antiques during the holidays, and Round Top, Texas, is one of my favorite places to do so.

Round Top is known for its antique fairs, held each January, April, June, and October, but the small town has a plethora of arts-and-crafts and antiquing activity throughout the year. One woman who has made her mark on Round Top is Rachel Ashwell, international designer and creator of Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture.

Ashwell’s style gained popularity through her London, New York, and Los Angeles stores, where she sells her designs—pieces that evoke a sense of the past with a fresh, clean look. She had been traveling to the treasure trove of Round Top for seven years when a familiar bed-and-breakfast property became available. Ashwell jumped at the opportunity, refinished the house in her own style, and dubbed it “The Prairie.” It’s a space that she fondly calls “a magical bubble” and now rents out to fellow antique hunters in Round Top. She loves it so much that she stays there when in town, all the while managing her international Shabby Chic Couture business.

I reached Ashwell (RA) in London, and she took the time to answer a few of my design questions about what she calls the flea market capital of the world … and this is coming from a woman who has shopped in many parts of the globe.
P. Allen Smith (PAS)

PAS: Round Top is quite a departure from your other locations. How is your style enhanced or altered by location, especially a place as unique as Round Top?

RA: Even though I am a London girl who has lived in Malibu, I have always had an attraction for the country western aesthetic and culture. Jeans, cowboy boots, and country music have been part of my life for as long as I can remember.

PAS: The Prairie sounds like the perfect canvas for you!

RA: Many people have a preconceived idea that Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture aesthetics is all about white, pink flowers, and chandeliers, which of course is my signature. The Prairie allows me to demonstrate the versatility of my aesthetics:

PAS: You’ve created so much in Round Top; what are you most proud of?

RA: Making The Prairie home for myself and all those I love brings me great pride. When I bought the property (formerly The Outpost Inn), I inherited the owner’s labor of love, and this legacy continues through The Prairie by the love and labor of all involved.

PAS: With that much going on at The Prairie, what does a typical day in Round Top look like for you?

RA: Up at 6:30, then 10,000 steps around the fields with Pearl the dog. At 8 a.m. I get my chef Danny’s  yummy yummy breakfast, where I meet and greet guests. By 9 a.m. I jump in the timeworn, open-topped Jeep with my associates and shop and shop and shop, stopping for food and drinks and chats on the way.

PAS: What are some of your favorite places to eat, drink, and relax in Round Top?

RA: My favorite place to eat is in our own backyard with Danny cooking barbecue, listening to music, taking in the wide open prairie … but Royer’s Cafe, Pie Haven, Stone Cellar, and the little stands on the side of the road are pretty great too.

PAS: After a full day of shopping and food, drinks and chats, I bet The Prairie is a welcome reprieve.

RA: Absolutely. I’ll relax with a hot cup of tea (others prefer a cold beer), reflect on the day, and ride a horse!!

photos of The Prairie provided by Rachel Ashwell

Dress your Table for Fall!

Hello again, friends and fans of Allen!

What a relief that the weather here in Arkansas is cooling down; it’s really getting me in the Fall spirit!

Because I share Allen’s passion for entertaining, I thought I would offer some ideas for creating a Fall tablescape that is still bold and bright. No muted tones for us this Fall, we’re going festive!

This month, you can find me on the pages of Traditional Home, inviting you into MY home for a dinner fit for Fall. There are also fun tidbits–including reicpes!–over at their website recap.

 

 

(event photographer: Emily Followill)

For a special party, consider transforming your dining chairs with slipcovers that work well with your chosen decor. And this faux bois wingchair, upholstered with fabric from my upcoming Tobi Fairley Home line, strikes a rustic note without taking away from the glamour of this event design.

 

On this table, I drew out the green accents from my living room design and then punched it up with a gorgeous sapphire blue. Monograms are a detail I love; it gives linens a very tailored, sophisticated, Southern touch.

 

The place setting and invitations (from Molly’s Paperie) extend the antler motif, which also appears as a grouping of wall-hangings (see photo above).

 

These lovely acorns really enhance the seasonal feel!

3 Tips for Working with Color in Your Home

Interior designer Tobi Fairley is back with a guest blog post about creating a colorful home.

Hello Allen’s Readers! It’s great to be back here to share with you again today.

In my design work, color is often one of the notable or distinguishing factors. I am a fan of using color in a big way to create interiors that are bold, yet still tailored. It’s like putting a fresh spin on a classic. In my Design Camp A to Z, I also teach a section devoted entirely to color and the process of selecting and working with a room’s palette. Today I thought it would be fun to share three of my favorite tips with you. Hopefully they give you inspiration for your own interiors.

1. Use bold color in one area.

If you go bold with a wall color, tone down the accessories in the room to create a nice complement. Likewise if you have a more neutral wall color, adding bright accessories can help to give the room personality. Adding intense color in just one of these areas and allowing the other to be more neutral will keep a balance that’s pleasing to the eye.

2. Consider creating a pattern with color.

Whether it’s stripes as shown in this teen’s bedroom, a lattice motif or a simple grid, using paint to create a pattern is a classic way to bring a fresh look to any room. While stripes are certainly a trend of the times, they have a timeless appeal and can be executed in a variety of different ways (think horizontal, large-scale, even pinstripe!). Blending a painted color pattern with other fabrics in the same palette can create an inviting and timeless look.

3. Add a pop of color in an unexpected place.

The ceiling is often one of the most overlooked surfaces in a room. Yet, adding a splash of color here can enliven a room and give it a one-of-a-kind touch. Swap beige, cream and stark “ceiling white” for a color that complements the rest of your decor such as the green shown on this kitchen ceiling.

Color can add so much life to a space. I hope these tips will inspire you to use color throughout your home.

Happy Decorating!
xo, Tobi

P.S. Want to learn more about working with color? Join me for Design Camp A to Z where I teach an entire section called ‘C is for Color.’ You can learn more and register at designcamp.tobifairley.com. Can’t join us for a full camp session? Purchase my ‘C is for Color’ telecall and you’ll receive an hour of tips!

Butcher Block Countertops

If you are looking for an easy update for your kitchen countertops, take a look at butcher block. It’s a classic choice, both functional and beautiful. Butcher block will fit into any style; it’s all about the wood that you select and the finish.

Butcher Block Countertop Choices

Maple – Maple is the most traditional and what I selected for the Garden Home Challenge house. It’s a popular flooring choice for high traffic areas because it’s durable. The light color is especially nice for bright kitchens.

Walnut – American walnut is a blend of dark to light brown and cream. Walnut is beautiful in both traditional and sleek, modern kitchens.

Cherry – This is a classic choice for countertops. The red and brown color deepens with age so the material just gets better looking over time.

White Oak – White oak has honey tones, open grain and interesting burls. Choose this wood for farm house chic rooms.

Butcher Block Maintenance

Butcher block is very forgiving of daily use and with minimal care it will maintain its beauty for years. Keep the wood well-oiled and dry so that your love affair with your countertops will endure.

The first thing to do is to condition the wood with food grade mineral oil. Apply a generous coat of mineral oil and allow it to soak in for about 15 minutes. Repeat the process until the wood won’t absorb any more oil. Wipe off the excess. Don’t worry about using too much oil. Avoid edible oils such as vegetable, olive or nut oils. These contain fat that will go rancid over time.

Next seal the surface with beeswax, which is safe for using around food. This will keep the oil in and block out moisture and bacteria. Spread on evenly, allow the wax to dry, and then buff with a soft cloth.

If you have brand new butcher block, you will need to oil and wax them once a month or so. It will get easier each time you do it.

For daily cleaning, sponge it off with soap and warm water. Be sure to dry afterward. You can sanitize butcher block with a weak bleach solution (1 tbsp. bleach to 1 gallon warm water) or vinegar and water followed by an application of mineral oil.

Sand away stains, scratches and imperfections with a fine grade sandpaper.

Good to Know: Lumber Liquidators

I found the butcher block used in the Garden Home Challenge house at Lumber Liquidators. Famous for their flooring, they also carry butcher block countertops. I was able to get a 1 ½”x 25″ x12 linear foot countertop for $359.00. That’s quite a savings. Check them out at www.LumberLiquidators.com.


Antiquing

I really love to treasure hunt in antique malls and stores around Arkansas, I always seem to find something I just can’t live without… and usually for a decent price, too! I spent a day last week with my production team at Crystal Hill Antiques and Twin City Antique Mall hunting for furnishings for the new eHow House… and we found some really fun things.

I started the day with a lazy meander through all the different booths. What will I find today!

I like to bring a notebook with me to write down things that I find, their price, and what booth they’re in-
otherwise it gets kind of confusing.

 

 

It may be a little pink for my taste, but it’s a good price… and look at this hand stitching! I think quilt tops can make great wall hangings.

 

 

You can haggle almost anything, you just have to be willing to ask. Depending on the booth, you can get a lot off of the original price!

 

I got a little distracted from my original task when I found the china. I’ve got to get some more Old Paris Porcelain… but the old stuff or the new stuff?

I’ve been looking to fill out my Old Paris collection. I like the older, simpler stuff… but maybe I should consider the later, more elaborate designs? It was made from the 1770s to the 1870s and was actually named after a factory in the oldest part of Paris- the Vieux Paris- and shipped to the US through New Orleans.

Ok back on task- I found this quilt at a second hand store and plan on using it in a kids bedroom at the new house… but what can I pair this with?

 

How about these mulberry transferware plates for $30? I think they’ll look great on a wall, and I can draw other colors from the quilt for my paint choices.

We had quite the successful day- four short clips filmed and lots of fun things haggled and purchased. Hope you stop in next time to hear about our next adventure.