Vintage Books, Seeded Eucalyptus and a Bit of Sparkle!
Vintage engineering books, seeded eucalyptus, mercury glass, and some printer's type set letters all came together to don our winter fireplace. It all started with a box of vintage engineering books that belonged to our good friend, Joe Bonk, who passed away last March. His wife, Janet, was "excavating" Joe's room, and feeling a lot overwhelmed. She turned to me and said, "and what am I going to do with these old engineering books?" I immediately replied, "Vintage books are really hot in home decor. I'll take them." We packed the books and I'm sure Janet thought I was crazy. They were old, weathered, and some were missing parts of covers. They were PERFECT!
Thus, began the inspiration for our cozy fireplace decor.
Our fireplace mantel is very, very narrow. It is only 4 inches wide across most of it's length, with a little more to work with on each end. The ends wrap around the fireplace bump out. I had to get creative and work with the space I had. I began by stacking books on the left side of the fireplace. This is the widest spot. I loved reading the titles of each book I selected. I could hear Professor Bonk expounding on the knowledge gleaned from each volume. (Joe Bonk was an engineer and taught engineering at the Community College of Allegheny County. He was much loved by family, friends, and the students he taught.)
The mercury glass candlestick was the perfect contrast to top off the first stack of books.
Next, I tackled the right side of the fireplace. I decided to mix things up and lean a couple of books against a mercury glass candlestick.
As I've shared before, our television is mounted above our fireplace and the sound bar is below. We spend most of our time in our family room/kitchen combination. The space is designed for the way we live. Admittedly, it can be a challenge to "accessorize", but as you can see--I chose to take the challenge and plunge forward.
At this point, I was able to position a few books flat and slip them under the sound bar.
The Traveling Curmudgeon--isn't this a great title! It turns out that this book isn't that old. It's copyright is 2003, but the cover graphic, color, and title are just so fun. It makes me smile to have it front and "off-center" on our mantel.
I placed the red volume on the left to balance out the yellow The Traveling Curmudgeon book on the right.
Now, it was time to add some fun and whimsy. I began to "shop" our home for something more. I found it in the living room! My husband is a graphic designer, printer, and so much more. He collects old, type set letters, and we have many of them displayed in a wall mounted, type set printer's drawer in the living room. It houses many treasures. I moved a few to the fireplace mantel to add more vintage charm. Here, we have our last name "JONES" spelled out. The little, tea stained, handmade, snowman just looks so happy to be part of this vignette.
I placed the typeset letters for "FUn" in front of The Traveling Curmudgeon, for obvious reasons.
Finally, I tucked seeded eucalyptus, miniature pine cones, and a few mercury glass votives throughout the display.
The fireplace hearth is adorned with a large lantern, birdhouse, and a pine cone crock. The empty crock was sitting on the floor and looking rather flat. I selected some large coffee table books from places we've been and stacked them. Once the crock was set on top of them, all I needed to do was to move my ever versatile, variegated, philodendron to the crock. The lush, green leaves are a perfect pop of color in the midst of a Pittsburgh winter.
I use books in our decor throughout our home. We love books, and I try to select books that are much loved and/or have memories associated with them.
Now, take a look at the final reveal that all began with a box of vintage, engineering books. I had considered shopping thrift stores for vintage books, but knowing these books were among the treasures of our good friend, Joe, makes them super special. I think he would be very pleased to see his books on display.
Here are a few more ways I've spread the wealth of Joe's books around our home.
This vignette is in our powder room. It is on top of a wall mounted cabinet, opposite the vanity. I am proud of how this vignette came together. I can see changing the snowman candle out for another candle, or maybe one of my Willi Rae figurines come spring.
Note: I did the paint technique on the walls over 15 years ago. It's been fun, but I am thinking of painting over it one of these days.
My Christmas orchid has finished blooming. I cut back the dead stems, and accessorized the decorative white container with dark stones. I love the structural shape of the orchid leaves, in the smooth white fluted container surrounded by black stones, sitting on top of a stack of vintage books. This vignette has contrast, textures, vintage, modern, and organics all rolled into one! I think it works.
There you have it. I used things I already had. I shopped our home and moved a few things to the mantel that had never had a place on the mantel. Last, but not least, I had a lot of fun reading the book titles and adding whimsy to it all. The moral of the story today: Have fun playing with home decor. Seek out things you love and already have and consider giving them a new location!
Our family room has a wall of windows that looks onto our deck and backyard. I enjoy having the deck "accessorized" all year long. After the Christmas holidays, it can be a challenge. I decided to continue the indoor theme of white and black, pops of red, and natural elements onto the deck. For the holidays, I had a swag hanging on each deck post with icicle lights hanging between them. I decided to dress them down from the Christmas decor to a warm and cozy winter decor.
I began with the following materials, including swags I had made from an artificial Christmas tree. These swags are almost 20 years old! When I first made them for our house, I had hoped they would last at least a year or two. The material is indestructible! (I'm so glad I saved it from a landfill.)
I saw these cute gloves on sale at JoAnn Fabric and Crafts for $1.00/pair. They were the original inspiration for the winter swags. I thought they would look cute tied together and hung on the swag. I decided that the gloves might need a little body, so I decided to use plastic grocery bags to stuff the palm and the thumb.
I used one quarter of a bag to stuff the palm and part of another quarter to stuff the thumb. The remaining part of the second quarter was stuffed into the palm of the glove. I chose to keep the stuffing light.
Next I tied each cuff of the gloves with twine. I used about a 30-36" length of twine. Tie one glove with twine and form a bow. Then tie the bow again. I did this to keep the twine secure.
I decided that the bow would be simple, and not have the multiple loops of the holiday bows. I was able to purchase the ribbon in an after Christmas sale. I thought the black and red check with white snowflakes would compliment the cozy, winter theme. I will attempt to explain how I tied the bow. There are many good tutorials on line. I used the Better Homes and Gardens Tutorial. Click Here for the link.
These colorful winter glove swags add color and pop to some our gray winter days. Every morning I enjoy this view with a cup of coffee and the newspaper. Delightful!
More Winter Deck Decor
I like to decorate my large deck planters, even in the winter. (If truth be told, I do not like to move them from the deck for the winter, so if I can't move it--I decorate it or disguise it! In this case, I chose to decorate it.) We are very lucky to have cardinals grace our backyard. I've come to learn that cardinals can symbolize that angels are near. I love that sentiment, and it warms my heart to think of all the angels in heaven that were once in my life. I was delighted to find some cardinal, winter decorations at JoAnn Fabric and Crafts in their after Christmas sale for 75% and 85% off. Our local grocery store had their bags of pinecones on sale 50 cents! I continued my indoor theme of black and white, natural elements, pops of red, and twinkly lights to the outdoors.
In the above scenario, I kept my rustic birdhouse and surrounded it with pinecones. I left the twinkle lights to poke through, so we could have the night time fun of twinkle lights. Then I placed a small evergreen tree with 2 cardinals in the planter. My favorite rusty star pick was left to finish off this design.
In the second planter, I used the pinecones and twinkly lights at the base. Tall sticks from the yard were stuck into the underlying dirt. I hung this cardinal in a nest with its eggs on one of the twigs. I think it was meant to be an ornament, but I love the way it adds color, interest, and whimsy to this arrangement.
A third pot features a rustic birdhouse made of natural elements and a cardinal. I put one of my garden hooks in the pot, and hung the birdhouse from the hook. I had the greens and pinecones in the pot from Christmas. The rustic birdhouse and cardinal were from the JoAnn Fabric and Crafts after Christmas sale. I purchased the cardinal decor for such reasonable prices, that I figured that even if the snow, rain, and sun did their worst, I wasn't out any money. They would please me for a season. I am happy to report, that the cardinal decor is standing up beautifully and I am confident that I will be able to store and save them for future use.
I did leave my icicle lights up and intertwined them from a stick garland that you may have noticed in the background of some of the photos. At night, the deck is aglow and it looks particularly beautiful when we get a little bit of snow.
Enjoy and have fun with your outdoor spaces, even in winter.
I wanted to have a simple "Winter Welcome!" sign to hang outside of our front door. I wanted something to go along with our outdoor winter cardinal theme. I decided to use what I already had--the slate sign "Believe" that I had hung for the Christmas holidays. It is a favorite of mine and something I bought at a church Christmas bazaar, some 20+ years ago. I decided to turn the slate over and use it as my new canvas! (This saves the space. I can store one sign, with the function of two signs!) You can also purchase slate from craft stores and builder supply stores.
The first step was to thoroughly wash the slate back. I read directions on line about this. The key seems to be to wash a few times using a soft bristle brush or netted scrubber. You want to remove lose bits and dirt, but you don't want to scratch the surface. I ended with washing the slate with a little dishwashing soap and water. Let it dry thoroughly.
Gather your materials together, while your slate is drying.
• Find an image that you wish to decoupage.
• Pair of sharp, small, scissors
• Mod Podge for Exterior Use
• Brush or Foam Brush
Length of leather strapping or strong twine for hanging
The next step was to make a stencil of "Welcome!" using my Cricut Air Explore using contact paper that I had in my craft cupboard. I chose Marker Felt font and cut the stencil. (You can create your own stencil using your printer and an exact knife, too.)
Finally, I was ready to stencil the letters with white, acrylic, chalk paint. Most acrylic paints will work. I used what I had available. I let the first coat dry and did a second coat, since the slate is porous. Carefully, lift the stencil from the slate. Let the paint dry thoroughly.
Now you are ready to decoupage your cut out image. Paint one layer of Mod Podge for Exterior Use where you want to place your image. I usually would use a foam brush, but I was all out, so I used a regular paint brush.
Lay your image on the slate and gently press into the Mod Podge. You can use your brush or craft sponge to secure your image. You want to make sure the entire image is tacked down. Be particularly mindful of the any points, corners, and edges.
Next, paint another layer of Mod Podge over the entire slate including the image and "Welcome!" Repeat this step a few times, following the directions on the Mod Podge container. The directions suggest to let the final coat dry 72 hours prior to hanging outdoors. They also suggest giving the piece an additional coat occasionally. I'm planning to apply a sealer, too.
This is my first experience using Mod Podge for Exterior Use. I am hoping for good results. The reviews on line were very positive about this product
Mod Podge has been around since the 1960's and I was an enthusiastic user in the 1970's. I haven't done much with it in recent years, but I have a renewed interest in the updated products and am looking forward to creating more "outdoor signage" for the garden. I will keep you posted.
Material Sources and Information: Click on the name of the source for the link.
• Mod Podge for Exterior Use
Sources for Slate
• Kulps Custom Crafts
• JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts
• Consumer Crafts
• Many people find slate for sale from old barns.
• There are many listing Esty for various sizes of slate to purchase.
• Slate tiles can be purchased at most home building stores.