Wednesday, September 29, 2010

It's giveaway time! Get ready, CSN shoppers!

That company that's so good to us bloggers is back with a $75 gift certificate for one of you lucky ducks. I'm putting a different twist on entering this so keep reading...

So here's how this is going to work.

How to enter: Go to the list of stores that are part of the CSN network and comment below with the store that carries an item you'd use the $75 on. You don't have to tell me an actual item, though feel free to do that, if you wish.

Extra entries:
- Post a second time if you are following this blog in some way and let me know how (RSS reader, "Following" through Google Friend Connect, etc.).

-Post a third time if you tweet about this giveaway. You must mention @smallchic in your tweet and use this link to send people here:

That's it! You have three chances to enter. I'll leave this open for one week and then use to select a winner.
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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Revisiting the gallery

Over a year ago, I wrote about how I had spray painted some icky frames I had originally found at HomeGoods or TJ Maxx to hang in a little spot outside the bathroom. I called it "the gallery" back then, which was sort of a joke in light of how tiny my place is.

Yesterday, I did a quick sketch of a horse and realized that I never really mentioned that little gallery again except for a quick picture that I took around the time I switched to simpler frames. It's grown quite a bit since I had three little sketches in it.

This isn't the layout...I took these pictures individually and placed them all together.

More cheap art! Most of the frames are from Ikea or Target and the sketches are done on card stock or sketch paper. Anyone have some more simple art ideas? I have a huge living room wall with just one, large mirror on it. I'm thinking that it might need a little more personality.
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Monday, September 27, 2010

Baxter by PVE Design

I'm sure you know and recognize Patricia van Essche's work. It's all over the design blogsphere. Her J. McLaughlin illustrations might come to your mailbox, too (follow the link and click on an address to see digital versions). Well, I'm over the moon that she offered to sketch my little bear, Baxter.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Patricia! I tried to sketch him myself a few times, but gave up.

Her house paintings are so beautiful that I kind of wish Baxter was out of the way and we could see more of the UVA Rotunda!
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After months of indecision, I decided to buy a domain name. I'm not changing the name of this blog, but from now on, you can access it using the long blogspot address or

Along with this little update will come an updated blog design. Unfortunately, I'm terribly indecisive and am not very good at giving Lindsey at Sweet Simplicity Designs direction. We'll see what she cooks up.
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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Inside a Real Housewife's house

Have you been watching the Real Housewives of DC? I have to admit that half of the reason I tune in is to catch a glimpse of the interiors of the homes in which the cast members live. Mary Amons' home has been featured quite a bit and while the home is a bit too large for my taste (she and her husband have five children, many of whom seem to be high school or college students), I find her home very appealing.

I read that Mary and her husband put their home on the market this week and as luck would have it, I was able to track down the listing. Perhaps they are downsizing? In a recent episode, Mary's husband pointed out that getting the baby birds to fly sometimes involves pushing them out of the nest. In this case, the nest looks quite comfortable!

*All photos from the linked real estate listing*

Ah...I love the seagrass runner on the stairs. Normally, I don't like contrasting biding on rugs, but I think the black trim looks great here. The moldings are beautiful, aren't they? According to the listing, the house was built in 1939.

You'll recognize this room from some of Mary's interview pieces on the show.

Mary's style is definitely interesting. The modern chair by the fireplace is almost like the room is sticking out it's tongue, saying "don't take me too seriously with my Baker chairs!"

There are two dining areas, side-by-side. This one seems to be the more formal. The other one is behind the mannequin and is open to the kitchen. At one point, Mary said she wanted to paint the walls glossy black.

The cross-back chairs are from the informal dining area.

The "informal" dining area is attached to the kitchen. You can see the formal dining room on the left. Notice the art...I think the first episode of the Real Housewives of DC started with the family having their portraits taken.

I love the kitchen. The materials are luxurious, but the scale of the room fits an older, colonial home. I wonder, however, why the wall overs are so far removed from the main part of the kitchen. You can see them in the right side of the image. I think they look like they are behind a built-in desk. There could be a work area directly across from them, though.

You can see the two dining areas here. Don't you love the marble counters and backsplash?

This room looks magazine ready to me. There are lots of things here that would have bloggers swooning...I wouldn't mind hanging out in this room!

This picture gives you an idea of how the first floor is laid out. I keep staring at all that great trim work!

The staircase in this image is a back can see this stone work in the first picture of the foyer at the top of this entry. The room in with the gold mannequin (left side of the picture) is not shown in the listing. Might that be the sunny room that Mary's daughter was using as a painting studio?

And now for the second floor...

This boy's bedroom isn't remarkable, but I thought I'd point out the University of Virginia items on the wall...right next to a USC banner. I'm biting my tongue. That is not wahoowah. ;)

Isn't it a beautiful home? There are plenty more images, including a few exteriors. Flip through them below.

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Fun with photoshop

Someone who read about my real estate listing pet peeve (bad photoshopping) sent me this photo. It's apparently taken from a local listing. Unless the room is shaped like a trapezoid, this picture is totally impossible. Look closely at the dresser on the left side of the image. Does that look a little odd to you?

I don't really understand why this is done to real estate listing photos. It seems to step a little too close to false advertising to me.

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Friday, September 24, 2010

You get what you pay for

I know many people love the places, but dollar stores drive me nuts. I wrote yesterday about not finding any plastic snakes for my little Halloween wreath. Marc suggested that we go to a dollar store to find them since Michael's didn't have them. Ugh. I didn't have any other ideas, so off we went.

I found a few large snakes and packs of little ones at one of the Charlottesville dollar stores (I'm not sure of the name). I figured I'd spray paint them, let them dry overnight and then get on with making the wreath.

When I got home from work last night, I had a little problem on my hands. The spray paint on the little snakes was not drying. After a full 24 hours, they were sticky (not tacky...I could have dealt with tacky) and left paint on my fingers. There must be something about the cheap plastic that was used to make those snakes that is reacting with the spray paint. How frustrating!

Anyone know a brick and mortar store where I can find little, rubber snakes? Maybe I should try one of those pop-up Halloween stores?

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Okay, so maybe I'm a little crafty

My favorite line from a Shakespeare pay is "The lady doth protest too much!" and I think it applies to me right now. I can't count how many times I've insisted that I'm not crafty...before revealing some project. Maybe what I mean is that I'm not creative. I can execute a craft once I see it, but I don't come up with them on my own.

Case in point...

On page 54 of this month's Martha Stewart Living, there's a black wreath covered in plastic snakes that I think would be an awesome door decoration for Halloween, which is quickly becoming my favorite holiday for decorating. I wish I had a scanner or could find the picture on Martha's website, but I can't.

The wreath was black, but so is my front door. I decided to go with gray/silver for my version. I assumed I could get everything I needed at Michael's (wreath, spray paint, rubber snakes), but Michaels was out of snakes. Perhaps there are others doing projects like this? Marc suggested we go to a dollar store and sure enough, we found plenty there.

Here are the supplies assembled and undergoing inspection by The Bear:

Here's where we stand now. Marc was pushing for orange. While that would have gone over quite well in Charlottesville (UVa's colors are blue and orange), I thought orange, plastic snakes would look a little cheesy. I think the gray is looking okay so far.

Tomorrow night, I'll attempt to attach the snakes to the wreath. I might have to invest in a slightly better glue gun. The last time I made a wreath, my fingers almost fell off from using my $4 glue gun.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What would you do with this?

I have to admit that I don't hate the rolled vinyl on my kitchen floor. Don't get me wrong...if I had been involved with building this place, I wouldn't have used it. However, this stuff is pretty forgiving, easy to clean, and when I drop things, they don't always break when they hit it.

But once again, my mind turns to what would entice a future buyer and also what I'd really love to see on this floor. Being a bit crazy for carrara marble, these pictures I found on DecorPad had me pretty excited.

For a brief second, I considered painting the vinyl a solid, bright color. Then a bunch of bloggers did that and I wondered if that was a project other bloggers would like, but buyers wouldn't.

Then I went to Sunny's Goodtime Paints over in Richmond to look at some large stencils that I could space out on a solid colored floor. Then a bunch of bloggers did that and I had the same worries as before.

Then I found this picture of a very small, dark stenciled pattern on a floor, courtesy of Gracewood Designs, and I thought there was something to it. The colors aren't right for my kitchen, but maybe, just maybe this (not the border...the middle) would be a fun project and be appealing when the time comes to sell?

From Gracewood Designs

Or should I just go with some simple tile? Do you think buyers expect tile? What colors would you go with?
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Monday, September 20, 2010

Are some of us lacking a point of view?

How many blogs do you have in your Google Reader? Is it overwhelming you at times, as mine is?

254 blogs. I think I need an intervention.

My Google Reader is overflowing. I was on the road for about ten days and didn't have much time for blogging or blog reading. When I came home, I took a look at the number of unread items in my blog reader and hit the "mark all as read" button without much thought and then visited a handful of blogs that I feel connected to so I could read what specific "blog friends" had done while I was away.

A year ago, I would have carefully flipped through each item to catch up on what all of the major bloggers wrote while I was gone. I found myself wondering why it was so easy to ignore all those unread blog posts. I think that it's because a good portion of the design blogsphere is lacking a point of view.

I'm not going to do extensive research, but I'm going to guess that the design blogsphere got started in 2006 or so. When I started reading the blogs in 2007, I was in awe. All of the design bloggers seemed so knowledgeable. I was constantly learning. Over time, as I added blogs to my reader, many started to blend together. There were the posts raving about the latest issue of a magazine, the raves about TV shows or movies, the raves about the newest catalog, raves about the newest line of items to arrive at a store, raves about a designer's was a whole lot of raving. It got hard to distinguish the voices when everyone was getting excited over the same things.

Now that I think about it, I don't think snarky blogs became popular because people want to be mean. I think many of us are craving any sort of point of view. Perhaps just as film fans ignore the critics who wrote positive reviews of every film, I should be ignoring the design bloggers who rave about everything. Just as it would be foolish to see a movie solely based on the positive review of one of those critics, it would be foolish to buy a product or magazine based solely on the positive review of a design blogger that seems to lack critical thinking skills.

If you're reading this, I doubt you're one of the bloggers about which I'm writing. I just wanted to share what's been on my mind. I've tweeted about this here and there and some of you have written back that you've done some unsubscribing, too.

Sorry for starting the week on a serious note. Writing this out has also got me thinking about how I blog. I have come to realize that posting good entries whenever they happen to come to me is far better than feeling pressured to post something each day. I don't have to maintain the same pace as bloggers who have made jobs out of their blogs. We are in different lanes and I should give myself permission to cruise in the right lane as they speed by in the left.
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Thursday, September 16, 2010

A view from the road

Most of the hotel photos I share are taken when I'm traveling for fun. As you may remember, we stay almost exclusively at Kimpton Hotels because they are pet friendly, have a great locations, and the interiors are always fun and interesting.

Today, I thought I'd share a few photos from my business travel, which requires stays at more mainstream, macro hotels (I don't know if that's the right word for non-boutique hotels, but it sounds right to me).

I'd much rather be at a smaller hotel, but these Marriotts aren't terrible...except for the fact that the one in Trumbull, CT made my group wait in a freezing cold lobby for hours to get rooms yesterday. I think we arrived at 12:30 PM, went to lunch when rooms were available (totally understandable...we were early), and finally got rooms at 4:30 or 5:00 PM.

Things could be much, much worse, right?

Does anyone know of another hotel group with cute boutique properties like Kimpton? I'd love to have another options since Kimptons are generally only in major cities.
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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Wishful thinking

Have you ever been in a secondhand or consignment store and been totally shocked by prices? I went to Boston Consignment, a store for secondhand furniture over the weekend. The prices were so high that I started snapping pictures.

I wonder if you agree with the price tags or if you think someone has seriously wishful thinking at the store.

Oh look! Cane backed chairs. We see those on Craigslist all the time.

Guess how much a pair of those was.

Wait for it...


Here's a set of four dinner plates for $195. These are NOT Royal Copenhagen.
I literally laughed when I saw these.

This was the only item in the store I thought was remotely interesting...but not at that price.

I'm sure someone with too much money on their hands spent a lot of money on this desk.
It was going for $1875. Crazy pants.

Here's a table going for $1795. That's my mother's hand as she tries to point out how nice the wood is. She is not familiar with Craigslist. Poor thing.

There were 8-10 of these ridiculously huge, leather chairs in the place.
They are seriously huge...they could be used in a reproduction of Alice in Wonderland.
$850 each.

Here's an acrylic lamp with an asking price that might be higher than retail.
There was another one.

Absurd. This place is in an upscale Boston suburb. Is there really a market for these things?

Okay, this is cute.

Come on. For a twin headboard?

You don't even want to know how much these were.

$650 for this monstrosity

More stuff worth a fraction of the asking price.

Have you ever been into a place like this? Can anyone offer some insight? What are they thinking?
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Monday, September 13, 2010

Eye candy from Boston

As I walked with my sister-in-law and nephews around their neighborhood this weekend, I couldn't help but snap a few photos of the houses. This is an older neighborhood, but people have updated and added to many homes to fit their families.

First and foremost, here's the most stunning house in the neighborhood, my brother's favorite. I love the windows, the weather vane, the driveway pavers...everything!

There were examples of beautiful additions:

An example or two of not so nice additions (no one tried to blend this one into the original structure, huh?):

Lovely homes that probably haven't been altered:

I probably should have taken this on an angle!

New ones that are blending into the original homes in the neighborhood quite well:

And a few that had such lovely details that I had to take some close ups:

A cool, modern window on a traditional home

The "detail" in this case was that sweet golden retriever puppy peeking out at me. :)

The sign on the door says "Gone to Fenway"

The arch is lined with beautiful, stained wood

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