Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Dining Room Updates

For the past month or so, I've been working on some DIYs for our dining room.
The first project was painting and mounting this paper roll holder.
I've had it for years, but wasn't sure where to hang it once we moved.

George & Willy
I love having a way to make large format drawings with my kids (or at least the one kid who doesn't have a YouTube channel or Twitter...)

I also wanted a way to be able to leave notes or write encouraging messages without the mess of a chalkboard.

Newspaper printing facilities will often give away their end rolls for free. Since our local newspaper didn't (at least at the time), I enlisted the help of my dad who then also built the box to hold it. I used black spray paint to give it an updated look.
You can also use the Mala drawing paper from IKEA if your newspaper doesn't give away end rolls.
George & Willy, creator of the inspiration image, is the New Zealand-based company that makes these holders. By coincidence, they're offering free international shipping through the end of today (June 30).
The other project I worked on was creating this large format brush stroke art. I bought a 30" by 40" canvas from Amazon, then simply dipped a paint brush in some black paint and swirled it around on the canvas. The good news is that if I don't like it or get tired of it, I could always re-paint the canvas white and start over. :)
This post from the Museum of Modern Art was the inspiration for the art; I wasn't trying to copy it exactly, just get a similar feel.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Dream House to Show House

I spotted this gorgeous, Mediterranean-style house for sale on my drive to work one morning and it got my wheels spinning. What if we were to bring a show house to this area? Is there a local nonprofit that could benefit a la Kips Bay? Is anyone doing this now?

The house is on the corner of Michigan Ave. and Cowley, across from Brody Hall at Michigan State University.

The house is at the outer edge of the Chesterfield Hills neighborhood, in a row of houses like these that I snapped the other night. The limelight hydrangeas in front of the white house are so dreamy...

The interior could use some work but has amazing bones. I love the special details like the Pewabic tile in the entry.

And the period architectural elements like the rounded tops on the windows and doors. The house was built in 1923 and has about 2,800 square feet. I think this is a decent size for accommodating a crowd during a show house tour.

Ideally, one of the designers for my imaginary show house would be someone who handles bigger remodels like kitchens. While I love the copper here, the rest of it is less appealing.

The master bedroom is a nice size with big windows. There are four additional bedrooms in the house, including one that has a separate entry, attached kitchenette, and a rental license (this last part is a HUGE deal in our college town).

The back patio has lots of natural charm but the imaginary show house would seek a landscape designer to turn this into something extraordinary.

The landscaping in this inspiration image (with or without the lap pool) is just what I'm envisioning.
In my dream planning, the show house would move from year to year between three different towns in our wider community. The varied locations of the show house generate the name for the project: ELOkDew House. There's a lot to be researched still (and I would start with the inspiration here) but I think this could really be great!


Oddly enough, this house is listed by the same realtor who is selling the house in my neighborhood that I wrote about here.

Win $500!
Visit Tomie Raines to enter a contest to win the Ultimate House Warming Package (prize includes $250 to Pottery Barn and $250 to Home Depot). Giveaway runs through July 31st.

Friday, June 26, 2015

High Five Summer (Thornton) Friday

TGIF! Except that it is my last day with my sweet children sleeping under my roof for a whole week. So it is a bittersweet end to the week. We had a lot of fun together, though, and with that cheerful mood, I share some of my favorite things from this week.

1. Summer Thornton

via Lonny

This amazing apartment tour...

And if you still can't get enough of this pad, check it out here too. I'm especially partial to that peacock chair, but it is all.SO.good!

The rest of Summer Thornton's portfolio is here, and I plan to drink it all in like a big glass of lemonade on a hot day.

2. Aunt Petunia

Dudley Dursley's birthday was Tuesday. By coincidence, we just started re-watching the Harry Potter movies AND JK Rowling made public comments about the Dursleys. Besides her attitude toward Harry, there are a few things I would like to say to Petunia about the d├ęcor of this room.

3. Waiting on ... Joss & Main

Joss & Main

I tend to forget about Joss & Main, but I have gotten some good things from them in the past. Their collaboration with Mandy Kellogg Rye from Waiting on Martha is full of all kinds of blue & white, faux greenery, sisal rug greatness. But hurry! The sale ends in two days.

4. Starbucks Lovers

Starbucks Kati Kati

Are the lyrics in Taylor Swift's song Blank Space "Starbucks lovers"? I think so. The website is offering these limited edition tasting cups with purchase of the Kati Kati blend. I love the pretty pattern. Available while supplies last.

5. Show House!

The current issue of Traditional Home magazine is dedicated to the best of show house ideas, and I could not love it more! It's not online, but you can see all of their articles on show houses here.


I might just need this gorgeous book, once I've finished the magazine. The cover alone is worth the $50 price tag. Gah! So gorgeous.

Do you like to visit show houses? Have you worked on any? I'm starting to dream about how to bring one to life.

That's it for this week.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, June 25, 2015


There may only be three good months of swimming in Michigan but that has never stopped me from wishing I had a pool.

Here are a few of my faves:


This narrow reflecting pool at the Greystone Estate in California would also be a good lap pool. The different levels and shades of greenery around the pool--lamb's ear close to the ground, hedges, and finally white flowering bushes on top--give it such a well-manicured look.


This is the complete opposite. More tropical, it is a pool at a home in Australia that is surrounded by brick pavers and features a big orange daybed under the palms. I would never move from this spot! I can imagine using pallets to form the base of these daybeds for a DIY and splurging on some good Sunbrella upholstered cushions.


This beautiful pool in East Hampton is huge and also surrounded by lots of greenery. I love the shaded pergola at one end because sometimes you want to get out of the bright sun.


A pool with some chaises around the side. Do you refer to these chairs as lounges or longues? Either is technically correct: lounge is what you do on them and longue is French for its shape.

Even if I didn't actually swim in my pool every day, I'd love to have one just so I could sit by the side of it and dip my feet in.

Are you a pool person or not-so-much?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Thinking BIG, Moving s-l-o-w

"Taking a step backward after taking a step forward is not a disaster, it's a cha-cha."

Today is my three-year blogiversary--which seems like a great time for some self-reflection.

I started Cosy Carolina on June 24, 2012, with the intention of using it to launch an interior decorating business. Three years later and that's still a dream. Because life keeps happening. We put our house up for sale and moved to a new one. Last year was the big wedding. Through it all, I've blogged and learned so much about my style. Some fun projects have come my way, and I have a few more planned.

But I haven't exactly set the blogging world on fire...

Lately I'm thinking more about how to take my passion for decorating out into the world, as a business venture. That's the thinking BIG part of today's post.

But I'm also wondering how the blog fits in with those goals?? For sure, I've enjoyed getting to know others who share my interest in interior design. And I definitely think it's fun to post inspiring images and updates on my own progress. Is growth in terms of followers a reasonable goal? Does it matter in the long run? If you are reading this, what do you think? Any advice? Friendly criticisms? I'm open!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Life Lately

Nothing like missing work on Friday to make you work harder on Monday, right? My summer posting so far has been more sporadic than I would have liked but I am planning--and doing--a lot! Consider this sort of a reverse high five Friday, with highlights of what I've been up to so far as they relate to interior decorating.

1. BIG art
Last week I went to Detroit for work and popped in at the Detroit Institute of Arts to view the Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo special exhibit. Rivera's murals at the DIA are renowned and a great example of "bigger is better" art. For more can't miss places to visit, see this insider's guide to Detroit.

2. Paint Palette
I was asked for a recommendation on paint colors and suggested this neutral palette of greys and blues. My paint preference is to use colors that work well together, limiting the palette to just a few choices. 

3. Michigan's MCM History
In answering a question about Michigan's mid-century modern fan base, I discovered that Michigan had an important role in developing this design style.

4. Swimming
Last week I bumped into the realtor who sold our house. As we were chatting, she mentioned that the previous owner's late husband had been quite a wonderful swimmer. He died unexpectedly in the same year as my grandpa; had he lived I imagine he might have had a pool installed in our backyard. 

5. DIY Dining
I've been working on some updates in our dining area, including this brushstroke art

I can't wait to share the rest with you! What's new where you are?

Monday, June 15, 2015

A Tale of Two Houses

One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to take a walk early in the morning and look at all of my neighbors' landscaping and front doors. The bonus is that I'm getting some fresh air and exercise, too!

via Tomie Raines

Perhaps my favorite front door in our neighborhood is a highly-patterned, robin's egg blue one. As it turns out, this house is now for sale. In fact, it's the only one in our neighborhood on the market. The location could not be better for a family because one block away are a high-quality childcare center, elementary school, and the middle school--on three separate corners, all across the street from each other. You can literally walk to school from preschool through eighth grade, all by just crossing the street!

This house, like mine, is a split-level and was built in the 1950s. It has a whopping 1,866 square feet with three bedrooms and one and a half baths, all for a mere $139,900. I can imagine this front room with a sectional and the TV over the fireplace (components could go on those handy bookshelves to the left).

Here's a shot of that amazing front door! I had to stare at this photo for awhile to figure out that the door doesn't open straight into the kitchen, there is a separate entry. The cabinets could use some updating--I think they'd look great with a coat of white paint and some new hardware. Since I love banquettes, I'd build one under the window and lengthen the table so it could continue to be a nice eat-in area.

via Tomie Raines

On the other side of town, near another elementary school, is this house. It was on the market two years ago when we were shopping for our house and we toured it then. I'm not sure if it was taken off the market or flipped, but it's listed again, now with a new realty company. From the photos it looks like they've done some updating as well as staged it for sale.

This is the view to the left when you walk in the front door. I love that they've added some nice furniture to stage the house, but it also shows you how tight the dimensions really are. I think this house would be perfect for a single person.

When we were looking, it was marketed as a three bedroom. However, the third bedroom is connected to the kitchen, and as my daughter likes to point out, had a pencil sharpener mounted to the wall. This room better works as an office (or as it's now staged, a den). I love the vintage light fixture that you can see in this photo. There was also one in the kitchen that totally made me want to call it home.

The beautiful tile backsplash here in the kitchen is new and I think the counters are too. The cabinets are original but very nice quality. Whoever has taken this on has outdone themselves in renovating the house and preparing it for sale.

This house is 1,249 square feet and listed for $184,900 with only two bedrooms and one and a half baths.

The lesson? When selling, find a great realtor who will help you stage your home for sale and get great photos. For buyers, definitely check things out in person--what is weird for one person might be totally perfect for another...

Krystine Edwards: Living Pretty Styled

Tonight at 11 p.m. on HGTV catch A Sale of Two Cities with this cutie and check out her blog for some awesome tips for a 4th of July party.

Friday, June 12, 2015

High Five Summer Vacay-Friday

Summer break doesn't technically mean vacation for me, but life has definitely slowed down. Here are a few things that have penetrated the mist of relaxation this week, otherwise known as my High Five Friday.
Morning Routine
My morning routines have been a bit out-of-whack since school is out for summer. I liked this inspiration to get it back on track (and she is a fan of Yoga with Adriene too!).

Summer House Tours
This Coral Gables house tour is the perfect marriage of sophisticated interiors and views of the outdoors...
Then, there is this beautiful tour, hosted by Marty from A Stroll Through Life, which included 30 homes over five days. Several of my favorites are there and some new-to-me blogs, too. All with LOTS of ideas for making home feel more summery!

A Stroll Through Life

 Novogratz Inspiration

Robert and Cortney Novogratz are so uniquely themselves. I loved reading this interview with them. In their own words, "Our brand is about family, color, fun, big art and livable spaces. It’s cool but not pretentious."

East-West Art Event

Janie Pinney "Heat Wave"

A collaboration between Wizzie Broach Interiors and The Pink Pagoda, this limited-time sale features absolutely gorgeous abstract art. I'm having an impossible time choosing a favorite, but all those I am drawn to have a wonderful summery vibe.

Movie Night
I loved this inspiring movie based on a true story. It made me want to get out and run!

Does it feel like summer where you are yet? I hope so!

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

My Summer Reading List

Do you love a challenge? I do! Which is why I thought Modern Mrs. Darcy's year-long reading challenge could be a lot of fun to adapt to the twelve weeks of summer.

But even if you think challenges are challenging, you might appreciate this list.

1. A book you've been meaning to read
Reading Lolita in Tehran 
Non-fiction story about life behind-the-veil in Iran.

2. A book published this year
A novel for a book club I joined, it has been compared to The Girl on the Train, which I'd also like to read. I also could have mentioned The Royal We (some have called it Kate Middleton fan fiction) and Dear Carolina, both of which I have already read. It's been a good year for books!

3. A book in a genre you don't typically read
Finding Audrey
Young Adult fiction by Sophie Kinsella, a favorite author of mine. Comes out today!

4. A book from your childhood
I bought the pretty new edition for my daughter's One Room Challenge.

House Beautiful

5. A book your mom loves
Three Days on Mimosa Lane
Really just about any of these books could have been recommended by my mom; she is the one who introduced me to several of my favorite authors (Austen, Kinsella, St-Exupery). This is one in a series and I love the title.

6. A book that was originally written in a different language
Wind, Sand, and Stars
Written first in French, it is an adventure story by the author of The Little Prince.

Traditional Home
7. A book that "everyone" has read but you
The Goldfinch 
I started this one last summer but it is HUGE. It may take me awhile to get from cover to cover.

8. A book you chose because of the cover
The One and Only 
A popular novel by Emily Giffin with a pretty blue cover, it was published last year and I didn't get to it then.

9. A book by a favorite author
Emma: A Modern Re-Telling by Alexander McCall Smith
This is a two-fer since I love both Jane Austen, the original author of Emma, and Alexander McCall Smith, who writes the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series.

10. A book recommended by someone with great taste
Queen Bee Goes Home Again (recommended by Simply LKJ)
Another popular novel that looks like a good read.

11. A book you should have read in high school
The Book Thief
It wasn't published when I was in high school, but it is being read nowadays by students where I grew up. I had asked for suggestions in this category on Facebook and got so many good recommendations that I think I might do a "back-to-school challenge" for myself in the fall.

12. A book that's currently on the bestseller list
Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling
Adapted from a commencement address that the author of the Harry Potter series gave a few years ago, it should be very, very good. I am also hoping to read HP with my kids this summer.

BONUS! Some really cool reading printables for your kids here.

Are you reading anything good right now? I find it a lot easier to read when I have a bunch of books on my "to read" pile.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Fire Pits

The power of fire and the strength of steel fused in elemental elegance to create sculptural fine art reborn from the ashes of industry.
John T. Unger

I happened upon these sculptural fire pits on One Kings Lane last week and discovered that the artist who makes them, John T. Unger, lives in northern Michigan. 

Font O' Fire

Lotus Fire Bowl
Meridian Fire Bowl

Big Bowl O' Zen
Read more about his philosophy of adaptive re-use and see more of his work on his website.

Do you enjoy sitting around the fire?

Friday, June 5, 2015

High Five Last Day of School Friday!

Today is the last day of third- and sixth-grades for my kids. I am so thrilled for summer but where does the time go???  

Here are a few of my start-of-summer favorites, otherwise known as the High Five Friday.

1. Donuts!

Dunkin' Donuts

Not only is today the last day of school, but it is also national donut day! I'm going to buy a few for my kids at Dunkin' Donuts and they are also giving away a free donut to anyone who buys a drink. The history of the holiday: it has been celebrated on the first Friday in June every year since 1938 to honor the men and women who served donuts to the soldiers during World War I.

2. Summer Uniform
I found a whole slew of cute summer dresses at Old Navy for as little as $15. Throw on any one of them with a pair of Soludos and you have my uniform from here on out.


3. Summer Concert

One of my favorite ever bands is touring this summer and will be in Michigan next week. I decided to buy tickets for everyone in my family to go see them after realizing most new music I listen to is from Radio Disney... The band is the Pixies and they're opening for Robert Plant (formerly of Led Zeppelin). There's even a Groupon!

4. Summer Travel


I wouldn't mind winning $7,500 for a family vacation and I love Sherwin Williams colorful take on it. Enter here.

5. Summer Decorating
House Beautiful
I just love this summery breakfast nook! Consider swapping out your regular dining chairs with some more comfy casual director's chairs like this pair. No rug under the table, lots of natural woven textures from the baskets, and styling the tabletop with fresh greens and citrus also help make the space feel more seasonal.

What are you looking forward to this summer?


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