Support Your Beautiful Blooms with a Trellis, Obelisk or Arbor

My irises are in full regalia right now. A perpetual feast for the eyes. Beautiful deep purple petals with a bright yellow beard. Just love them.  A week ago I noticed that they could use some propping up so I moved a trellis from the back yard where it was used more for decoration than anything else. Seemed like a good decision. The long stalks were struggling to stay upright. That’s one nice feature of trellises. They are very portable and versatile. Need some support for long stemmed or top heavy flowers and they’re your man (so to speak)!

I’m not very competent in the garden but I do love the romance of flowers and the idea of bringing the blooms indoors.  Many tall varieties that make beautiful arrangements, such as roses, gladiolas, iris, and lilies, to name a few, can benefit from the extra support that a trellis can give until they are ready for cutting.  Since trellises can easily be moved they are excellent for this.

There may be other opportunities to utilize the sturdiness of wrought iron garden accessories.  Let an obelisk be the tower of strength for long blooming clematis. Or erect an arbor or pavilion and allow trumpet creeper or wisteria to take over and be your canopy. You may attract a butterfly, hummingbird or two! Also other nectar-loving birds like orioles will be grateful.

Now, don’t just leave these beauties for your yard. Bring some inside to brighten up your home. Since you will not have the luxury of the little packets of commercial cut flower food I thought I would provide you with a couple recipes to make your own. They do help the blooms last longer and help retard bacteria. What you need in your cut flower food is (more…)

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Embrace Wabi-Sabi Style

Today I think I’ll serve you some Wabi-sabi. Sounds like a dish doesn’t it? If it were, I think it would be sushi.  Raw, unique, natural… Wabi-sabi is a simple understated style that is all those and more.

Wabi-sabi is a Japanese term for a beauty that draws you in to embrace its simplicity and imperfection. Wabi-sabi is actually two separate Japanese words that through the centuries became almost interchangeable in definition. During the 14th century they took on a meaning of positive aesthetic values blended into one characterization.

Wabi is simple rustic natural beauty with handmade uniqueness and fortuitous design.

Sabi is beauty that emerges through age and wear, and the changes that creates a patina, making it more graceful and valuable in appearance. The scars of repair are coveted.

Together, Wabi-sabi is defined as an expression that denotes a rustic simplicity in both natural and manmade objects.  In the simplest of terms it is tarnished elegance. Natural is preferred and uneven or flawed is desirable.

My thoughts? What could be more Wabi-sabi than wrought iron decor? Natural material forged by hand. It is the quintessential aesthetic beauty of imperfection! It is graceful yet humble and unconventional.  Wrought iron will fit into wabi-sabi style because it can be simple and sleek or it can wear proudly the patina of age.   I have both in my home.  I have a piece of black wrought iron wall art in a simple graceful design as well as wrought iron garden accessories that have begun to show age and the effects of being out in the weather.  And I like both looks equally in their perspective displays, each a little uneven, each a little imperfect, yet each giving our home a sense of sereneness.

So if you think Wabi-sabi sounds intriguing and you decide to add the essence of the style to your home, consider how wrought iron could play a roll. Be it a statue that will weather in the garden or a simple wall sconce, wrought iron could be the rustic elegance you are looking for!

Wabi-sabi style is a beauty as referred to in Japanese as “shibui” … austere, elegant and unobtrusive; refined yet simple; tasteful and understated. I think that definition fits wrought iron to a “T”!

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How to Create a “Tablescape”

I received and excellent question from one of our blog readers and rather than just responding to that person I thought I would share my answer with everyone.

Question: “Is there a height for a table lamp to be above or below the lower edge of a picture that is hung on a wall with a decorative table underneath?”

Well, without knowing the table height and dimensions, the table lamp height and width, and the size of the artwork you plan to hang, this is just general information but hopefully it will be helpful. Ultimately the answer lies in visual aesthetics and balance.

It is a common design technique to have your objects touch or overlap each other. To begin, as in any art project, start with a blank canvas and create in layers. For a “tablescape” select your location and where you will place your table. Then hang your art centered over the table not too far up from the table surface so that they still seem like one unit. You may want to have someone with you that can hold up the artwork where you think it will go and stand back to see how it looks. Depending on the size of the piece, it may take two people to do this. For me, when I hang art that I will walk past I like my eyes to look at the top half of the scene. This will keep taller people like my husband from looking above the art when they walk past. Use the same rule of thumb for art hung near conversation areas. You don’t want to crane your neck to look at the art.  Another option is to rest the art directly on the table. A workable choice for a casual look when the art is not large and you would like to set the lamp next to the art rather than in front.

The next layer is to add a lamp. Choose a lamp that’s proportionate to your setting; heavy or delicate, wide or narrow, tall or stubby, size is very important. An oversize lamp on a small table will look like it’s ready to tip over. Be mindful of color and texture as well. It should (more…)

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Re-Imagine Your Home

We all get restless from time to time and tend to think that a change of scenery, venue or location will cure the restlessness. Well, they say the grass isn’t really greener on the other side of the fence … it’s just not your grass!

If moving to another house or a major renovation isn’t a possibility for you right now, like it isn’t for Tim and me, then let me pass along a few ideas to help restore inner serenity. So, if you can’t remodel or re-invent your space try this … re-imagine!

Sometimes a small negative when it gets under our skin is all we seem to focus on, like a splinter. In spite of the fact that we are frustrated that we can’t dump a ton of money in a home project doesn’t mean it’s impossible to find some contentment in our less than perfect abode.

Find something about your home that’s positive. What caused you to buy it in the first place? Was it the beautiful view? Or the wonderful family room with a gorgeous fireplace.  An incredible master bedroom or bath? How about your “to die for” gourmet kitchen? Or was it none of the above, just the diamond in the rough with dream-filled potential? I know there was something about it that just made your heart sing the first time you walked in the door. Find it again and reminisce. You’ll find a new appreciation.

Where is your never miss, feel good spot?  One for me is (more…)

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Are You Winter Saturated Yet?

I’m so pathetic! It’s hardly two weeks past Ground Hog Day and I’m impatient for warmth!  I think I have cabin fever and I live in a temperate climate! I really feel for our neighbors up north who will likely be staring at mounds of dirty snow well into April or May.  Nonetheless, I’ve had my fill of wet and gloomy and am ready for some spring! Even my local home improvement store is aware of our restless human nature and recently mailed out a magazine with projects to fuel that inner craving.

If we can’t be outside tooling in the garden or having coffee on the deck then an inside innovative project may help you shake those dreary winter doldrums. So if you can’t decide what to tackle I’ve come up with a few ideas of my own to help you refresh your winter-saturated spirit!

Channel your Energy at Closet Clutter: Use a paper towel holder or towel ring to display scarves or ties. A key holder or wrought iron coat bar is a perfect necklace holder. Need to find a place for your favorite hats? A decorative wall hook or wreath hanger will work quite well.  Make more standing room in a smaller walk-in closet by taking down the clothes bar on one side and hang a series of curtain cranes that can swivel to the side for slacks and folded sweaters. You can place them in more than one row at different heights.

Tidy the Toy Trails: There’s no reason why the containers you use to straighten up after the kiddos always have to be plastic and primary colors. Leave those for (more…)

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What’s Up Your Chimney?

Did you know that the tarry stuff that can line the walls of your chimney derives its name from two Greek words that meaning “flesh preserver?” Yes, it’s the compound that’s responsible for the preservation and flavor of your favorite smoked meat!

It is the result of wood that hasn’t burned completely. Ashes that are the carbon wind up in a pile under the grate and creosote, which is the oily residue, ends up in the lining of the chimney.

The stuff actually has some good qualities about it. Years ago it was used as an expectorant, anti-septic, astringent and laxative. These days it’s been thankfully pushed aside for more modern remedies. Creosote is still used in industry and is commercially produced in large quantities.

Now, let me get on to why I brought it up.

Burning wood in a fireplace is a low temperature burn in relation to other burn methods and burning wood at low temperatures causes an incomplete combustion of the oils leaving them to rise in the smoke. Then when the oils in the smoke cool it condenses on the interior surface of the chimney flue. This oily black residue is creosote. Fire after fire, the creosote builds and can become several inches thick. This can then restrict airflow in the chimney, which in turn can cause the fire in the fireplace to burn at an even lower temp, thus increasing the amount of creosote produced. Also, creosote is very flammable and is a major fire hazard.  All that’s needed to cause a chimney fire is some creosote buildup and a good dose of hot oxygen from a very hot fire in the box.  Chimney fires have been known to spread to the house from the heat coming into contact with other combustible material. Just a hairline crack in the mortar and heat will find its way. Or sparks from a chimney fire can make their way to the roof.

I say all this so that now that winter is here and you have the itch to build a fire, put maintenance first. Begin by having (more…)

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Got Retro?

You know, it doesn’t matter what your decorating style is, wrought iron fits in anywhere. Whether your look is Cabin, Country, Shabby Chic, Metro, Urban Contemporary, French Country, Art Deco, Victorian, Mid-Century Modern, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, or any other design, wrought iron decor is in there somewhere.

I have yet to pick up a book or magazine on home decorating that didn’t include wrought iron in at least one room of a featured article. Case in point. One such magazine by Jim Brown Publishing called “Atomic Ranch” celebrates 50’s Ranch Style. Did you ever imagine that wrought iron would work in a 1950’s retro kitchen? Sure enough, there was our wrought iron wine rack on page 43 in the summer 2011 issue!

For your Shabby Chic bedroom add a wrought iron wall sconce or chandelier and wrought iron hardware to a dresser or bedside table. If you have a fireplace in that room, a leaf fireplace screen will be an excellent addition. Instead of the endless search for a perfect fireplace screen from an antique shop, you can select the right screen from our site,, and enhance the look by wiping it down with matt finish off-white paint. You can see examples of these ideas in an article about adding Shabby Chic touches on the HGTV website. Or for a Victorian home fireplace add a wrought iron fender. Even without a fireplace in a room with Art Deco style you can add the clean lines of a Wright Design Wood Holder or Scrolls Log Basket to hold magazines and newspapers. You won’t even miss the lack of a fireplace.

Every home needs a welcome sign. For a French Country look choose (more…)

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Get ready to PARTY!

It’s summer and that means getting together with friends and family. This time of year is just yearning for backyard BBQs, poolside picnics, and neighborhood block parties. Summer means an abundance of celebrations. Whether it’s for a holiday (4th of July is just next week!), a wedding, anniversary, birthday or sports, it’s just fun to put a party on the calendar. And although we usually think outdoors for our fun and frolics, summer weather can prove to be unpredictable with a fair share of afternoon downpours and spur of the moment thunderstorms. This can wreck havoc on your plans if you’re not prepared to move things indoors. You may have a covered patio but if the wind is blowing your guests will still be drenched!

So unless you are willing to send everyone home with your best bath and beach towels think ahead to a quick change indoors.  You can even do it with a little outdoor flair.

First, make sure you have plenty of seating. Add a pub table and stools to a corner of the family or great room.  Increase your serving area by adding a shelf with wrought iron brackets on open wall space at bar height. Hang a mirror over it to give the feel of depth. Add a candle and two bar stools and you’ve added a conversation area. You can even add (more…)

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Spring ReNEWal

Spring sure came early in April this year. So did the pollen. So did the bugs. I think the birds started early this year too. One not so wise blue bird couple is trying to nest in my neighbor’s newspaper-shoot under their mail box. Last bird to do that didn’t complete that task if you get my drift. But I love this time of year. Doesn’t matter if the winter has been long or short, harsh or mild, it’s always refreshing to see things bud and turn green, and have the sights and sounds of the birds.

Speaking of mailboxes … ours needs to be reNEWed! A teenager backed into it last year and we did a temporary fix to get us by for a while. This year I think we’ll get a new post and wrought iron bracket. Maybe even add a wrought iron plant hanger to the side to get the flowers up off the ground and away from the dogs (mine included!) so they have a chance to survive. Or I could go with a wrought iron trellis and plant a clematis. Updating the mailbox, even if you’re not needing to replace it like we do, is a quick and practical way to spruce up an essential fixture while improving the esthetics of your front yard.

Another new thing we added this spring is (more…)

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Transform Your Porch into a European Veranda

I love my front porch. Our house has a very cabin-like look to it, complete with a long porch on the front. We like sitting out there except for feeling that we’re on display. We’ve also wondered if the neighbors think we’re spying on them when we perch ourselves out there for a while with a cold beverage in hand. The thought would probably cross my mind.  I’ve thought about hanging some fabric curtains to obscure the view or add a trellis at each end to give the feel of an enclosed room, yet keep it open and airy.

Got a porch? Create a living space. Make it your relaxation room. This is often a forgotten usable space that we don’t think about until the sun has gotten unbearable and we are seeking shade. Then everyone is scrambling for a place to keep cool. An excellent addition is curtains to keep the atmosphere cozy and inviting, yet open and airy. Wrought iron curtain rods will withstand the elements and provide a sturdy anchor as the fabric sways and poufs in the breeze. Our neighbor has done this on their back porch and it’s delightful!

If electricity is available take advantage of it and add a couple of wrought iron sconces. Flank a window or door with matching lantern wall lights. If you don’t have a window that is in a strategic spot, create the illusion of a window like we did and hang a piece of wrought iron wall décor. On each side you have the option to place electric wall sconces or a pair of Raleigh tavern candle lanterns from wrought iron wall hooks or plant hangers.

If your outdoor space is under a sun deck at ground level you can give the illusion of (more…)

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