Vintage Secretary – From Ugly Duckling to Beautiful Swan (SOLD)

When I first saw this antique secretary, I knew a beautiful swan was waiting to emerge.

Her serpentine drawers and cabriole legs hinted at the beauty to come.


And a writing surface and cubbies only added to her charm.


Hidden under dirt, grim,


and layers of pealing and cracking paint


a beauty began to emerge!


On the outside, “Tricyle Red” milk paint from Miss. Mustard Seed

allowed the imperfections and character to shine through.


While”Driftwood” by General Finishes provided great coverage and durability on the inside.


 Damask and french script stencils add the final touch and


The Transformation Is Complete!

And that’s how an Ugly Duckling transforms into a Beautiful Swan!


 Thanks for stopping by! Love Nicole

From Plain Jane to Pretty in Teal (SOLD)

Teal is everywhere these days. From fashion to furniture, it’s the must have color this season.  So I decided to take the plunge and try CeCe Caldwell’s Thomasville Teal and see what the rage is all about. My test subject for this project is this “roadside rescue” my husband found. It’s a plain Jane dresser with good bones. For me, “good bones” means its solid construction, it’s functional and has lots of potential!

Say hello to “Plain Jane”

CeCe Caldwell has a great blue/green paint called Thomasville Teal.

Thomas meet Jane!


After a few coats of Thomasville Teal, “Jane” is still looking plain. It’s like she has on a pretty dress but no accessories to complement her dress.


So, I added some accessories. The numbers add character (like a scarf ) but the black is to subdued. She needs some bling!


You can always count on gold for some bling. And, it really pops against the teal.


After a little bit of distressing and some gold knobs (earrings), Jane goes from plain to Pretty In Teal!


I could see this in a nursery with sweet little baby clothes, or for a toddler just learning to count, or as a lingerie chest in the master bedroom. The possibilities are endless!

Dresser Before                                            Dresser After

Have a great day!

$123 Farmhouse Dining Room!

Once we finished our kitchen renovation (see it here ), the adjoining dining room “beach” decor clashed with the new urban French farmhouse kitchen. We had money in the budget to paint and a rug, but I only had $150 for a table, chairs, lighting, and artwork! Time to get creative!


I wanted the two spaces to flow together and the best way to unify the spaces was to paint the walls the same goodbye yellow and blue,


Hello Front Porch (by Sherwin Williams).  I love, love this color. Depending on the light, the color changes from gray to taupe, to gray/blue to gray/green.  Four colors in one!


 I rescued this table from my neighbors (Thanks JJ) trash several year ago and have been using it on our screened in porch.


I love the chunky legs but wanted an aged look for the top.  To achieve that look, I left on some of the flaky vanish, then dry brushed the top with CeCe Caldwell’s Destin Gulf Green.

Farmhouse table. Cost: Free

Nothing says “farmhouse” like mismatched seating.

Thrift shop Buffalo check settee. Cost: $75
Farmhouse chairs. Cost: Existing chairs, no cost.
Chalk paint updates a pair of french chairs. Cost: $12/pair
A pair of french chairs from the thrift shop. Cost: $12/pair
Curb side Corduroy. Cost: Free (Click here to see how I painted the fabric and wood on this chair!)

Final touches include thrift shop artwork,

Bold colors and texture from abstract artwork. Cost: $14

Yard sale lighting,

Spray paint and swag add bling to a Chandelier. Cost: $12

And a thrift shop faux fur throw.

Pillows and a faux fur throw add more texture. Cost: Existing pillows, $10 throw.

Farmhouse Dining Room ! Cost: $123.oo

Farmhouse Dining Room!


Thanks for checking out my post and Happy Decorating!


Gray Wash Pine Dresser

Sometimes you get a piece of furniture and you can see the natural beauty of the piece just below the surface.  That was the case with this pine dresser that my friend Meghan’s father handmade.


The top stain had worn off so the top looked really dull.

By sanding and staining the top, you can now see the beauty of the wood. It is gorgeous!

IMG_2597For the body of the dresser, I layered on several colors to create a worn weathered look.  The first color I used was CeCe Caldwell’s Omaha Orche,


Followed by a Pittsburgh Gray color wash. To create the wash, I mixed 1/2 cup of water to 2 tablespoons of paint. I love that you can still see some of the graining and it looks like the paint has worn off over time!  

IMG_2605I am really happy with the final look. My goal was to maintain the history and integrity of the piece while making it fresh and current for a 21st century home. It’s now available at Maggie Jane’s, located at 913 King Street in Old Town, Alexandria, VA (703.706.0411). This versatile piece would fit in any room in the house. Nice small scale for a foyer; an awesome wine bar; side table or bedside dresser.


Here is a collage of before, during and after. Enjoy!

Graywashed dressercollage

Antique Wardrobe (An American Beauty)

A long, long time ago in a far away land, a closet looked like this……..


I found this beautiful piece of furniture on the curb, destined for a landfill:(

It’s a quality piece with original details and plenty of storage.



This old girl has seen a lot in her lifetime and it was time to give her a 21 Century makeover.

Several coats of CeCe Caldwell Vintage White paint brightened the dull/worn finish. Behind the mirror is a secret compartment!

IMG_2075Original hardware plus vintage style glass knobs added some bling! Attached to the pink bow is a skeleton key to hid your treasures!

IMG_2075 And, behind the vintage Cottage Rose pattern fabric is the closet area.


Say hello to “An American Beauty”


This piece is available at Maggie Jane’s located at 913 King Street, in Old Town, Alexandria, VA.

The transformation is amazing, literary from trash to treasure! Go find your decorating style, and change your world!


Front Porch Makeover 2015

It’s that time again, time for front porch living: talking to neighbors, sipping lemonade, and relaxing.

After a long cold winter, our porch is looking tired and worn.


I approach decorating outside spaces the same way I approach interior spaces.  I start at the end…how do I want the space to look, feel, and live.  Keeping in mind the hot, humid Washington summers, I want the space to be airy, breezy and relaxing.  And of course, no color represents that more than “blue”.

This blue stripped rug (from Wal-Mart) dictates the color palette and grounds the space in shades of blue.IMG_2144

The blue chairs from last year still look nice but the cushions are dull. A quick fix include a ten cent Sunbrella sample and a new pillow.



The old red cushion is covered in linen fabric. Decorative pillows and a blanket, create a cozy nook



A vintage window, paper place mat and stencil create unique house numbers!



An old shutter painted Carolina Yellow (with CeCe Caldwell Chalk/clay paint) is the perfect backdrop for a basket of faux flowers;



And our mailbox goes Euro with spray paint and a stencil!

IMG_1988 IMG_2061

Other cool accents include:

An antique light fixture for vintage charm!
An antique light fixture for vintage charm!
A picnic basket for storing garden tools.
A picnic basket for storing garden tools.
A coffee table with good reading material!
A coffee table with good reading material!
A chalkboard for fun messages!
A chalkboard for fun messages!
An office with a view!
An office with a view!


Airy, breezy drapes, elevates the space from porch to outdoor room!

IMG_2094                             Thanks for checking out my post. Enjoy your summer of 2015!

Yes, You Can Paint Fabric (The Painted Chair)

My friend Sarah and I found this chair in someone trash last year. Can you believe someone was throwing this out!  And yes, I checked for critters and I left it on our porch for several months to be extra sure there were no uninvited guest.

I love the juxtaposition of the formal Queen Anne style with the casual corduroy fabric.


Rolled arms, nail head trim and cabriole legs–need I say more?

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Since I have “no” sewing skills my original plan was to get new fabric and have the chair re-upholstered. Well, the cost for re-upholstery was not in the budget, so I decided the paint the wood and the fabric. Yup, paint the fabric!

Basically, I sprayed the chair (one section at a time) with water to get the fabric wet but not dripping wet, then applied the paint with a brush. Here’s the chair after one coat of CeCe Caldwell’s Vintage White.


Here’s the chair after the 2nd round of spraying and painting.


After the final round of spraying and 2 coats of CeCe Caldwell’s Simply White.


I only painted the front of the chair and here you can see the contrast between the front and side. I love the two-tone effect. The wood got a mix of CeCe Caldwell’s Vintage White and Simply White. The cushion will be covered in this fun yellow and white bird print fabric.

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And here’s the chair in our family room.  I think it looks amazing. We love sitting in the chair because it feels like soft leather.



Here is a collage of this project from start to finish. So cool!


Thanks for checking out my post.  Happy Decorating and Happy Spring!





Kitchen Reno-Part 4 (The Details)

Here is the another post in the Kitchen Renovation Series.  This one titled “The Details” highlights the cabinets, granite, back splash, storage and decorations in our kitchen.

Let’s start with cabinets. We choose the Herrington style from the Kemper Cabinet line from Cindy Lawyer at CNC Kitchen Designs in Alexandria, VA.  I have always wanted to use gray cabinets as a alternative to white, and the island cabinets add a nice “pop” of color.

The gray “oasis” color is alternative to white.
The island cabinets are a blueish/green color called Tidal Mist. The three colorful stoosl are from Walmart on-line (medallion collection). To make my island function like furniture, I added a bold yellow lamp, books (as art), family photo, a plant and a runner. Remember the “design trinity? Check it out here: 

We were lucky to get our granite “free” from our neighbors (Thx Keith & Sarah!). The granite sat outside in our yard for 3 years and it still looked awesome when we used it.

Uba tuba granite with flecks of gray, blue and green compliment the cabinets.

One of my “must” haves was a farmhouse sink! I found this one from Home Depot on-line.  Another on-line retailer was selling it for $500 more than HD!

Whitehaus fire clay sink with oil rubbed bronze faucet and “cross” handles from Kingston Brass (from Faucets Direct).

These hexagon tile in shades of gray, tan, and cream were another HD purchase.

The hexagon pattern add a fun dimension to the kitchen and the colors compliment the cabinets, walls and floors.

As you may recall, one of my main concerns was storage. In addition to the island and wall cabinets, we added storage in creative ways.

In addition to seating, the banquet has three large drawers for storage. Assorted pillows and a plaid throw add comfort while the antique yellow shelf and modern star burst mirror add a touch of whimsy! 
And by adding a small table and two french chairs, we created a breakfast nook. Perfect for coffee and surfing the net!


This antique cabinet is beautiful and functional.

The cabinet stores all our small appliances including the toaster, mixer, blender, etc. The two chippy windows add height and airyness (is that a word?) to the space.


Open storage in a vintage bookcase.

This vintage bookcase make finding and using everyday plates, cups, cookbooks and serving dishes easy. The rustic iron “H” (from ( and a painting by my husbands great aunt add farmhouse charm.


And, finally to pull it all together we choose pendants, light walls and dark floors.

Pottery Barn rustic pendant bring vintage lighting to the island.
Sherwin Williams “front porch” paint changes from gray to blue to green depending on the light.
The dark “jacobean” stain is a nice contrast to the light walls and cabinets.

And now, a final look back.




If you are undergoing a major kitchen renovation or just added a few touches, I hope you have enjoyed this series and found it helpful.

Get your design swag on and conquer the world!

Love and Happy Decorating,




Vintage Corner Cabinet (aka the “Meghan” Cabinet) (Sold)

A few weeks ago I went to my sweet friend Meghan’s house to see some furniture.  One piece in particular caught my eye.

This beautiful vintage corner cabinet. OK, it’s not beautiful yet, but just like Cinderella, with the help of her fairy godmother (me) she will be!


Vintage corner cabinets are hard to find and although this one had a few “character” spots it was well made. Meghan found this piece on the curb and it was destine for the landfill. So sad!



My first step was to decide on a color. I felt blue would be the perfect color for the ball so I mixed CeCe Caldwell’s Paints and created a color I call “Royal Blue”.

So here is the cabinet after painting, distressing and waxing.  The new color is fresh and happy!  The inside is painted CeCe Caldwell’s Vintage White.


Although the inside color looks nice, the white is sterile. Another custom mix (Grey Goose), and the interior finally compliments the exterior. Here’s Meghan, all dressed and ready for the ball! She is the “Belle of the Ball!

cornercabinetwm 0216151349

This piece would be perfect in a dining room filled with china, in a family room filled with books and accessories or in a nursery filled with sweet baby books, toys and clothes!  Available at Maggie Jane’s Brownstone, located at 913 King Street in Old Town, Alexandria, VA.

Thanks and Happy Decorating!


Forysthia In Bloom, Inside, In winter-Oh My!

Thanks for the update Phil (the groundhog)! Six more weeks of winter:(

0121151342I am so over winter I had to create a little “springtime” in my home.

Two weeks ago (January 21st) I cut forsythia branches and brought them inside.


I put the branches in a vase of luke warm water, sprayed them with warm water and put the vase in a sunny window.

The vase on the left is peach and the vase on the right is forsythia.

Every 5 days I sprayed them with warm water, and today (February 5th) this is what I have: Springtime in Winter! This branch is filled with blooms and some places have green leaves. It’s not too late, you can do this now and have flowers in 2-3 weeks! Forsythia, peach, quince, and pear are all good flowers for forcing.


The peach branches are taking a little longer and should (I hope) be blooming in 2 weeks. I’ll keep you posted on their progress!

Peach branches after 2 weeks.


Thanks and Happy Decorating!