Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fall Porch Tour - Traditional Fall Porch Decorations

I'm so excited to share my fall porch decorations with you.  It's getting cold here in New England and I'm trying not to think about putting all my pretty porch furniture away for the winter.  I'm going to get every moment of enjoyment that I can out of my lovely Victorian porch before the cold winter weather takes over.

I love my old house and have been collecting a hodgepodge of antiques over the years for it.  My porch reflects the different things I've gathered over the last decade.  I have mostly old things but I change it up with some new items like the white garden seat I bought this summer.

I've read it's good Feng Shui to have two large heavy objects flanking your front entrance like guardians.  My ornate white metal urns remind me of soldiers standing on guard.  My husband purchased them for me as a gift so I really love them.



I couldn't resist this goofy painted pumpkin.  It looks like he has Pepperoni Pizza for a nose!

I put a few gourds and little pumpkins in my TJ Maxx bargain find lantern I purchased for $7 on clearance!

This old gray metal planter is another gift from my sweet husband.  I saw it at junk shop in town and he went back and got it for my birthday!  I'm so lucky.


The little cement bunny is in memory of my pet house rabbit, Ernie.  We had him for 9 years and he was litter-box trained.  They make great pets, are very smart and social creatures and shouldn't be left outside alone.

The fountain runs in the summer.  We empty it once it gets too cold.  :-(  I love the sound of water.  It's so relaxing and helps block other sounds.




 I hope you've enjoyed my porch tour!  Have a wonderful fall!

Savvy Southern Style Wow us Wednesday

From My Front Porch to Yours - Treasure Hunt Thursday

No Minimalist Here

Feathered Nest Friday

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Wallpaper Wednesday - Gorgeous de Gournay Wallpapered Rooms In The Colors Of Fall

The colors of fall are so warm and beautiful.  They make you want to layer on the comfy clothes and sit by a big, cozy fireplace with a cup of tea. 

Please relax and enjoy these de Gournay wallpapered rooms in the colors of fall.  They are so stunning!


This gorgeous de Gournay wallpaper is so warm and inviting in its burgundy and gold.  You can use de Gournay wall coverings to create the perfect, warm statement rooms that center your home and give you a color scheme to build from. 

Here's a couple more de Gournay wallpapers that just blow me away in their gorgeous detail.

The rooms above have really used black and orange in an elegant way.

The gold damask looks so rich with the fireplace and detailed ceiling moldings.

I think this last photo and the first are my two favorites.  Just love the detail in the rich, warm wallpapers.  Some day I hope to have a dining room wallpapered with de Gournay chinoiserie.

If you want to enjoy more de Gournay wallpapers go to the de Gournay site. 

Thank you for sharing my love of beautiful wallpapers!

Feathered Nest Friday

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wallpaper Wednesday - Ralph Lauren Home Wallpaper Collection

Ralph Lauren has some gorgeous wallpaper collections.  I've always been a fan of his clothing, home d├ęcor and designs.  He has such a mark of quality and elegance in everything he does.  He brings the same level of sophistication to his wallpaper collections.

These are a few of my favorites...


Archival English Papers II Collection

This chinoiserie paper will add a great statement to a room where you want WOW factor without bold color. 

Photo from Architectural Digest - Ralph Lauren's Flagship New York Store. VIP dressing room.

This chic and sophisticated damask looks great in a dining room or foyer!



Ralph Lauren also has a great selection of natural weave style wallpapers

I'm a big fan of grass cloth and woven wallpapers. Just love the look of this wallpaper in the foyer.

Photo from Traditional Home

For more information and to view the full line of Ralph Lauren papers go to: Ralph Lauren Home
Thanks for sharing my love of beautiful wallpapers!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Five Steps to Optimize Your Home's Resale Value - Don't Over-Improve

While we interior design bloggers love the decorating and creative projects in our homes, it's still important to know where we stand financially.  Your home is likely to be your biggest purchase and can really effect your quality of life.  With people moving an average of every five to seven years, we want to make sure we're  getting the most out of our real estate investment.  This will effect how much we can spend on our next home and how we'll plan for our eventual retirement.

These reasons are why it is so important to get the most out of our home's resale value.  We should take care not to over-improve our home for our neighborhood. It's so much fun fantasizing about a big, new kitchen and luxurious bath! Ooooooh what about a new sunroom and new stone patio? Got to love those outdoor entertaining spaces.  Maybe you want to finish a basement or attic and wonder if it's worth it?   I can relate.  I love home improvement projects and it's probably when I am my happiest. It brings out my creative side and I love to see something worn, old and ugly turned into something beautiful.

My sweet money pit...  but I do love her so! 

Older homes like mine can be a real challenge because so much money is often spent on important systems and structural repairs that you may not have much money left in the budget to put toward interior design improvements and decorating. Old home layouts can by very funky and hard to improve without major construction. I've run into the standard problems with my antique home and had to update wiring, plumbing, the heating system, exterior painting, roofing and some structural work. Don't get me wrong, I love the old house and am happy to be the one that was able to save it. It was being neglected and once old houses start going down hill, they slide quickly into some very expensive repairs.

It can be frustrating to hold back when you want to do a construction project to make the house beautiful and suited to your taste.  It's best long-term to have patience and a plan to determine what projects matter the most to you and are going to pay you back. 

The following tips have some advice on which projects to tackle first and when to stop spending money on improvements.

Note:  I have a couple of simple math calculations in here, but don't panic.  They are easy and I'll walk you through with examples.  These are the numbers that will help to keep you from spending too much on improvements. These are basic figures and don't capture all the extra costs of selling and moving.

1.  First  - Analyze your current housing market and the actual value of your home. 

Your town assessment can be a start.  Check your last tax bill for your assessment.  Some towns have an online City Assessors database that will not only allow you to see you home's assessment, but those around you in the neighborhood or you can visit City Hall and ask them for the information. 

If you can afford it, the best way to go is to get an appraisal.  A detailed residential appraisal will usually run between $300 to $400.  That will give you a list of comparable properties in the area that have sold recently.  Your home will be analyzed against those comps and other sales in the area and the value of your improvements will be added and any problems or outdated items with the home will be subtracted. 

If you're not comfortable with either of those, you can always ask a real estate agent to put a report together for you.  They may charge you a fee for this service but it's generally a lot less than an appraisal but it's not as detailed.

Remember, house values are always subject to change based on the market.  Even when you have an appraisal, it's no guarantee that your house will sell for that amount.

2.  Once you have the value of your home, subtract the amount of the fee you would pay a real estate agent to sell it (that's generally about 6%).  Once you have that number subtract what you paid for the house when you purchased it.

We are trying to get to the number you have to work with for improvements.  Here's an example:

House Resale Value:                  $280,000
RE Broker's Commission (6%):  - 16,800
Total:                                          $263,200

Total:                                         $263,200
What you paid for it:                -  205,000
 Potential Improvement Fund:   $58,200

3.  Make a list of all the repairs and improvements REQUIRED for the home.  Get estimates for the work and subtract that from the potential improvement fund money.

This list includes the important systems and structural stuff that the house needs in order to keep it in good shape.  It is also the basis on how a home inspector will rate your house.  They look at the pretty stuff too but it's the systems and structure that really matter to them.  This list may include such things as new roof, chimney work, a more efficient furnace and/or cooling system, repairing the foundation, rotted decking/porches, exterior painting/siding, replacement windows, electrical, plumbing, driveway.  Other than the exterior painting, you don't really get to have a lot of fun with those items. 
Potential Improvement Fund:   $58,200
New Roof on Garage:                 - 3,500
Energy Star Furnace/Install:       - 6,000
Replace Decking on porch:        - 2,500
Balance Improvement Fund   $46,200
Boy, those numbers look good to me. Wish that was all I had to do!

4.  Decide on your budget for renovations and interior design improvements.

Just because you have $46,200 left, doesn't necessarily mean you should use it all.  You'll want to keep as much as you can.  The lower you keep the costs, the more profit you make when you sell eventually.  There are also other costs to moving than just broker's fees, so try to keep that in mind as well.  If you are taking a home equity loan or refinancing (which I hope you're not) you won't be able to get access to the full value anyway. You'll probably only be able to get to 80% of value.  So figure out how much you have to spend.  Let's say I want to keep a $25,000 profit so my improvement budget is $21,200.  I usually will save cash and do a project at a time.  Yes, it takes longer but I don't have debt hanging over my head and I sleep better.


5. Okay, before you start with you interior design, just STOP for a minute.  Now look around closely at your neighbors. 

Would you say you're the nicest house on the block or somewhere in the middle or lower end?  Middle or lower can be a good place when you want to make improvements because your home value will be effected by the nicest house in the neighborhood and you have room to grow.  If you're already the highest valued house (like mine...) and everyone has lower values, it will be tougher to get your money back out of your improvements. 
Now is when you can start your fun list of improvements.  Evaluate the type of finishes the other houses have.  Do they all have granite kitchen countertops and you have laminate?  What about things like hardwood flooring, tile and fireplaces?  Outdoor living spaces?  You'll want to try to keep up if possible for the best resale value.  If you have some extra room in the budget go a little nicer.  Just don't go too crazy as you'll lose your return on your money based on the neighborhood.
So, your analysis shows that all the houses in the neighborhood have decks or patios and your house doesn't.  That's a good area to improve and get value.  You can also look at using some of the money to update any outdated rooms, such as kitchens and bathrooms.  Some new appliances, a fresh coat of paint, new faucets and hardware can go a long way in a kitchen.  Sometimes the simple changes can give you the most return.
The article below has some good examples of which home improvements have the best return.  The average return on a home improvement dollar spent is appx 60% so we need to plan wisely.

 10 Remodeling Projects That Pay Back Most

It's really what matters to you.

If you're living in your dream home and want to stay there another 20 years then by all means, do all the projects that will make you happy as long as you can afford them.  At the end of the day, it comes down to what is important to you and your individual situation.  Many homeowners are just breaking even or upside down on their mortgages and value of their homes.  It's a tough position because they still need to keep the house maintenance up but probably shouldn't invest anything for improvements unless they are absolutely necessary for resale.
Not everyone can handle a house that needs remodeling.  I like helping out an old home and I love thinking of the history of the families before mine.  It is still frustrating for me to have to sacrifice in some areas that I would like to improve.  It's a balance between what is best for the house, your finances and what you love.
I hope this post has helped you in some way.  Next post we're back to the pretty stuff! We'll be looking at Ralph Lauren wallpapers on Wednesday!  ;-)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wallpaper Wednesday - Grass Cloth Wallpaper for the Bedroom

Grass cloth wallpaper is gorgeous and warm in a bedroom. 

I've been agonizing over paint colors for my bedroom.  Picking paint colors has never been easy for me.  It's always trial and error.  Lots of paint samples on the walls and sometimes just having to repaint the whole thing later.  I finally had an "Aha" moment last week while I was trying out the fabric I want to use in the room.  I really want something warm and cozy for the long New England winters.  As I was staring at the room and trying to picture different colors, I remembered when my Dear Husband and I stayed in Newport, RI over the summer.  We stayed at a lovely Victorian B&B called the La Farge Perry House and our room had grass cloth wallpaper.  I absolutely loved it!  I managed to snap a few photos of the room because I was totally enamored with it.  It was so golden and warm!

So this is my inspiration room!  I have a big, four poster bed and will be using a toile fabric.  My colors will be gold and toile red.  The fabric I have is Waverly Country House Toile.  It's been around for awhile.  I've been waiting to use this fabric for a long time and have finally found the perfect room for it.

Grass cloth wallpaper has come a long way in the last decade.  I was always afraid to hang it.  It takes a lot of skill. It could also be difficult to remove later.  The papers are easier to work with now and if you don't want to use actual grass cloth they make some really convincing vinyl faux grass cloth wallpapers.  Some designers are using Phillip Jeffries faux grass cloth in their designs and it really looks fabulous.  I'm researching both types to see what I am most comfortable using.

So what do you think of my inspiration room?  Gorgeous, isn't it?

This post is also on

 http://www.savvysouthernstyle.net/ Wow us Wednesdays...

Monday, September 16, 2013

My Latest Bargain Find!

Turns out that Friday the 13th was a good day for me!  I headed into town to register a vehicle and couldn't resist driving by my favorite antique and junk shops.  Out front of one of them were three ladder back counter stools with rush seats in perfect condition.  It just so happens that I need exactly three and had been looking a long time and not finding anything I liked and that would fit in my small space.  Even more surprising is that these are very sturdy, solid wood and were only $35 each!!  When I wanted to buy all three, the wonderful shop keeper took $15 off.  $90 total for all three stools!

I was looking them over and saw a stamp underneath that read "J.H. Craver and Son."  I looked them up online and found that these stools retail for appx. $150 a piece unfinished!  Well, shut my mouth!!  A true bargain! 

They fit really well around my kitchen island.  So now I have to figure out what color to paint them.  My kitchen is SW Kilim Beige.  I've been told to go bold with color on them but I'm pretty neutral with my color scheme.  The room has a view into the dining which has brown and off-white damask wallpaper, off-white picture frame moldings and chocolate/off-white gingham curtains (photo included below).  So what do you think?  I definitely could use some advice on a paint color.   Do you think I should go bold too?  Maybe Chalk paint?

Since my house was a major fixer-upper, we didn't have a big budget for the kitchen.  We had to be creative.  I'll get into all the kitchen details and before and after photos in a another post.  We still have a lot more to do in this old house so great bargains are always very exciting for me.  It gives me extra money to spend elsewhere.

These photos will show you a little more of the color scheme in my kitchen. 

Love my Friendly Village set of plates!

 This is a closer view of the tile work over the sink.  These are also in the island.


Dining Room Colors - you see into this room from the kitchen.

I can't wait to hear your color suggestions.