May 25, 2015: Hola darlings! Happy Memorial Day. The rains are over (for now) and warm muggy air is blowing in from the south on strong winds. Today will be hot and humid. Last week I was turning my heat on and off, LOL! Spring is here and I'm in gardening mode. I hired a lawn service for the season but wasn't satisfied with their performance. I guess nobody does your lawn as well as you do. I bought an electric (corded) lawn mower, no more dislocating my arm trying to start my gas model, that's going to Craig's List! Take care, everyone! Jan

Monday, June 29, 2015

Redoing the Living Room - 4: The Search for My Perfect Grey Sofa

Hola darlings!

The hunt was on!  I did next to nothing for at least a week except look at probably 4000 sofas online.  I swear I looked at absolutely every single sofa available at Amazon, Overstock, Wayfair and Lamps Plus, and Bellacor. Then I moved on to other online furniture vendors I'd never heard of, and looked at more, and more and more.  And then I kept going back and looking at all these sofas over again - several times. I printed out tons of spec sheets and images.   It is a wonder I slept at all.

I quickly discovered that the cost of my perfect sofa clashed horribly with the reality of my perfect budget :)  I did not even bother attempting to get a price on the Pearson or the Lee Jofa grey sofas in my inspiration photos, I knew either one would cost more than all of the furnishings in my house combined.  Another reality was that very few sofas were offered with single-cushion or bench-style cushion seats.  Some sofas had a bench-style seat but it was "built-in" - not removable.  Removable was a must have.

I was also looking for a length not much larger than 84" to 86", and a depth under 40".  That automatically knocked several otherwise potential sofas out of the running.  The whole point of going with the new sleeker furniture lines is to create a smaller furniture footprint in my 14' by 15' living room.

I wanted to keep the sofa in the range of $1,000, which for me is a LOT of money to spend on a sofa.  I knew I would have to compromise.  I decided that I could live with two removable seat cushions if necessary, but I would not sacrifice the style I was after.  As the search continued I came across potential sofa options priced below $1,000, but I later deleted them from serious consideration based on online reviews and a worry about overall quality.

I slowly narrowed down my potential sofas to these two:

Sofa above at Lamps Plus, the Portsmouth Grey Portico Sofa with nickle nailhead trim, $1,400.

Sofa above at Lamps Plus, the Maggie Tufted Bella Granite Sofa, $1,500 (but as of this posting, now on clearance with only 2 left for $1,300.00).

Then, one night as I was yet again looking at an expanded sofa search at Wayfair, I stumbled across this beauty:

Image above is the A&B Home Group Provo Camelback Sofa.  Not grey, not velvet, not tufted, but a removable bench seat, a lovely curved back, the sleek lines, the right size, and best of all, a FABULOUS PRICE:  $899 WITH FREE SHIPPING!

I hemmed and hawed - did I want it?  It wasn't grey, it wasn't velvet.  I loved it.  I hemmed and hawed two days too long before making up my mind after going through a pile of printed out images of sofas with my buddy Ann.  When I made my decision on a Friday night to buy the Provo Camelback Sofa, it had DISAPPEARED FROM WAYFAIR.  Could not find it anywhere  it was not shown as Out of Stock, it was GONE, not listed.  Then, I could not even find it offered for sale elsewhere on the internet, whereas a few days before, I had found it available at a few vendors.  The Provo Sofa had disappeared from the internet, except for cached images and outdated listings!

OHMYGODDESS!  Let's just say that I was rather distressed.  All that looking, all that effort, all that work, only to discover that the sofa I was ready and willing, finally, to buy was no longer available for sale!

Guess what?  About a week to 10 days after suffering that trauma, the Provo Camelback Sofa reappeared for sale at Wayfair, for $1,541.  I'm so over it.

Redoing the Living Room - 3: Inspiration Photos

Image above from Lee Jofa, Charleston Sofa, fabrics by James Huniford (from Lee Jofa website).

Image above is the Tiffany sofa by Pearson Furniture (from Pearson Furniture website).

Image above torn out of one of my Traditional Home magazines.  I did not make note of the month/year, unfortunately, so I was unable to find it online.

Those sofas!  I wanted a grey velvet sofa with a REMOVABLE (not fixed in place) bench seat cushion.  Optional additions were a tufted and  curved back.  Must haves were sleek modern lines with a wink toward traditional styling. I was looking for something "Manhattan Classic" -- the series at Horchow -- or something reminiscent of mid-century modern without giving up altogether on more classic lines.  Something totally different than the furniture I had purchased years ago for a much larger house.

With the furniture gone from the living room, I began an all out hunt for the perfect sofa!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Redoing the Living Room - 2: The Floor Plan

I don't know about you, but as many times as I've rearranged furniture over the years, beginning way back in 1969 in my very first apartment, I usually just winged it and shoved furniture around until I hit upon a configuration I liked -- or not, and then ended up shoving the furniture back where it had been originally!

Sometimes I would rough sketch a lay-out, but never to scale; sometimes they worked, more often they didn't.  What looks good on paper doesn't always translate well to three-dimensional space.

So, this time, after all these years, I decided I was going to do this the right way.  I found an online program easy enough for me to use, measured my living room, and went to work coming up with some floor plans.  It didn't take long using this particular program (I found it at Bob's Discount Furniture) and this is a tool I will certainly use again in the future, loved it!

Without further ado, here is the floor plan I've settled upon:

What I really appreciate about this particular program is that it gives you a second page with a listing of all items in the room with their dimensions!  Makes it easy to reference as I shop for furniture.  Anything too far off the dimensions I used in the plan would be less and less likely to work.

I even drew in a 6 x 9 area rug to anchor the main seating area.  The sofa is placed in front of a 7-foot wide picture window.  On the opposite side of the coffee table are two occasional chairs with a smaller footprint, hopefully to leave enough space at the back of the room (by the dividing wall with the dinette) for a larger lounge chair with a back tall enough to rest my head against for watching t.v., reading and snoozing.  I may add a footstool, but that is not in the floor plan.  By the fireplace I've placed my small desk and a small chair faced toward the picture window wall. I really want to put a desk back into this room, but with my old furniture, there just was not enough space.  I am hopeful that with the smaller chairs and new configuration the desk will fit comfortably and not feel too cramped/forced.

The remaining pieces of furniture are existing pieces.  On the wall to the right of the sofa is my china hutch used as a bookcase and storage.  On the opposite wall is the (removable) fireplace.  On the sofa wall tucked into the corner is my curio cabinet.  The dimensions of all of the case goods and small desk chair are all to scale as I already own those pieces.  The sofa, coffee table and chairs are estimates based on sizes I've scribbled down of several of my "saved to wish list" pieces as I've been window shopping online.

That's it!  I've never done anything like this plan before, so I'm excited to see if it will actually work in the space.  I did two fall-back plans, one that will be used during Christmas season when the tree takes the main stage in front of the picture window, and one without the desk and small chair.

Now, on to some of my inspiration rooms and color pallette!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Redoing the Living Room - 1

Hola everyone!

I am still here.  The weather has finally turned for the better in southeast Wisconsin and I've been spending quite a bit of time outdoors. The garden beds are full and the flowers have been blooming.  Today the first day lily popped open!  At the former Maison Newton because of the shady areas I would have day lilies blooming throughout the large backyard through mid-July, but here I will be lucky if the blooms last until July 4th.  My yard is full-blown scorching sun from around 9:30 a.m. until about 5:30 p.m. when the sun finally swings around to the west and the house shades most (but not all) of the backyard.  I can tell you this, there will be a LOT of day lilies this year, for sure!  There seem to be twice as many flower stalks as last year.

The hanging plants are up, the pinks and other perennials I added to the garden beds last year all bloomed (I only lost one, and that one I planted out front) and the grass is looking pretty good thanks to the weed control/fertilizing service I hired.  We've also had goodly amounts of rain and the spring was cool, all conducive to growing a good grass crop.

My brother Jeff's oldest son, Cory, is getting married next month.  Megan and Cory are setting up their first place together, and in a fit of genius (I get occasional flashes), because I've been wanting to get new furniture for my living room for some time now, I asked my sister-in-law Heidi if she thought the kids would like my like-new furniture (queen size sleeper sofa, slim line La-z-boy recliner, and a large Simmons wing chair with matching ottoman).  She said YES!

So, last Saturday, my brother and Megan's dad and brother arrived at the house, trailer in tow, to move the furniture.  It was quite a production to get the sofa out of the house -- the doors had to be removed from the front door for the sofa to fit through!  But eventually it was done and I am now the proud owner of this:

Sorry about that last photo.  The sun is blasting in through the picture window right now and I've never taken the time to learn how to adjust for that glaring light on this old camera, a 2009 "antique," I understand.

I'm starting almost completely over, woo woo!  The lace scarf that I threw up on the short but long window on the south wall nearly a year ago (intending always to replace it...) - gonna disappear!  The grandma-esque ice blue embroidered curtain panels on either end of the picture window that looked so fabulously beautiful to me when I bought them from Penney's in 2012 (for the family room in the former Maison Newton), outta here!  The rug, going into hiding in my den/library.  It's 100% wool, thick and soft, it will anchor the small 10x12 room. The coffee table --

Well now, what to do with the coffee table? It is one of my favorite pieces, I've had it since the early 2000's when I bought it on clearance at Marshall Fields (now Macy's).  It is solid wood, has a rustic pine finish and is heavy as a rock (a LARGE rock).

But I am going in a somewhat different direction in my new furniture selections, including a sleeker, smaller coffee table, and there is no place to put the table, save the basement wreck room, which I do not use.  And getting that baby down the narrow basement stairs - oh no no no.

I didn't offer it to the kids because their apartment living room is small and the table is over 35" square on top and even larger at the widest point in the chow style legs, which bow out and then curve back under the table.  So, right now, I'm in a quandry.  I figure I should try to sell it on Craig's List, a solid wood classic styled coffee table should sell for something, I figure.  But I just haven't gotten there mentally yet.

What's staying:  (1) gel fuel fireplace; (2) curio cabinet; (3) china hutch/bookcase and credenza.

I like the main wall color and that is staying; I don't know what the name of it is, but it is a pale greenish-grayish satin finish, very subtle.  The fourth wall, which opens to the front door, the entrance to kitchen and the hallway off of which are the rest of the rooms in my house, is currently painted a metallic sort of pea-soup green (not my doing!), and is going to be painted to match the other walls.  Just as soon as I get around to it.  I have the paint, that's something anyway :)

I am going for full-blown neutral upholstery with no patterns whatsoever this time around, and will spice things up with color in accessories, just like all of you do so beautifully and me, meh, not so much.

So, I am getting all new stuff!  (1) Sofa; (2) coffee table; (3) area rug; (4) one and possibly two occasional chairs; (5) one chair for serious t.v. watching, reading, napping, possibly with an ottoman; (6) one or possibly two small ottomans/footstools if aforesaid chair does not come with one; (7) new curtains; and (8) several throw pillows.

So, the next several posts will be all about this monumental undertaking.  I must be mad, mad I tell you...

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day Means Gardening in SE Wisconsin

Happy Memorial Day everyone!

Warmer weather has arrived, at least, for now.  LOL!  The approach of Memorial Day weekend triggers massive mobs of plant-crazed Wisconsinites invading every garden center in the state.  We all have our favorites, but when stock gets low we're not picky, we'll go anywhere, even to Illinois - gasp!

My two favorite garden centers are Luxembourg Gardens in Franklin, which is run by a master gardener and her husband, and Milager's in Racine, a multi-generation family-run business.  In my opinion, these two centers have the best stock, bar none.

So, on Saturday May 23rd, my buddy Barb picked me up bright and early and we beat the crowds to Luxembourg Gardens.  She had made a previous run and this trip was on the hunt for spreading petunias and some interesting colorful annuals.  Luxembourg grows their own stock in green houses on their land, and they offer plants I've never seen anywhere else and can't even pronounce the names.  All I know is - the stock is hardy, well-grown, and suited to our variable Wisconsin climate.

$89.90 cents later for me (I don't know how much Barb spent), we were outta there, and just in time.  When we'd pulled in there were plenty of parking spaces.  When we left about an hour later cars were circling the parking areas trying to find a spot!  Talk about good timing, whew!

My theme for the front stoop this year centers around my bright red mailbox.  I LOVE IT!  Not sure what my neighbors think (if they hate it they've been polite enough to keep that to themselves), but it makes my house the only easily identifiable one on the block without having to strain your eyes to read the house numbers!  And it added a necessary jolt of color to my otherwise very neutral-colored house.

So, this year I was going for red.  The idea struck me one day a few weeks ago when I was shopping at Pick 'n Save and there was a large display outside one of the entrances of hanging pots of petunias and geraniums in all kinds of colors.  Oh, look at those, wouldn't they be pretty, I said to myself.  Self answered back, oh yes, that is a great idea!  I ended up lugging home a HUGE hanging planter filled with red geraniums; it was a steal at $12.99.  (Hmmmm, maybe that's the day the sciatica problems started??? See below...)

Anyway, the decision to go with red geraniums this year rather than some other kind of red flowers was made: (1) they're easy to grow and care for and will tolerate the western sun beating down upon them during the long summer afternoons and (2) they're inexpensive and (3) I'm familiar with them (translation: I'm too lazy to learn how to take care of any other kind of red flowering plant).

My initial plan was to hang the hanging pot of geraniums on my largest black iron plant-hanging pole thingy to add an additional bit of color out front, and flank the front door with my white Chippendale-style planters filled with red geraniums and asparagus ferns.  But the hanging plant I'd picked up at the Pick 'n Save was large, heavy (especially when watered), and my black iron plant-hanging thingy was not strong enough to stand up straight; it kept leaning this way or that way with the weight of the planter on it.  I tried various ideas to try and get it to stand straight, but I gave up in the end, and decided I would hang some kind of light decorative object from the plant-hanging thingy instead.

So at Luxembourg Gardens I purchased three healthy red geraniums (in hindsight, I should have bought four) and two asparagus ferns - very large ones!  What was I thinking... well, I was seduced by their lush beauty, what can I say? The plan was to put the ferns in with the geraniums, as last summer the ferns loved the heat and the sun on the front stoop and they grew and grew and grew!

Luxembourg Garden geraniums (3); green pepper plants (4), and
an heirloom tomato variety (4).  The peppers and tomatoes
will be planted alongside my driveway stoop, where there is plenty
of sunshine and shelter from the house and concrete stoop
if the nights dip down below 50 F.
Can you believe there are only 2 ferns in that box?  You
can also see a peek of the white and green vining
plant and the pink and white petunias.
I also planned to put some pink and white petunias with some green and white vine plants in two white hanging planters along the back fence.  Earlier this year I also bought two Chippendale style planter holders and two large planters to fit inside (they match the pair I have on my front stoop); my intent was to begin to add nice planters around my large and barren expanse of concrete patio. I wanted to buy something exotic and wild-looking for them.

So, after I got home and was looking over my lovely plant purchases, guess what -- I somehow forgot to buy plants for the patio pair of planters.  I realized I didn't have enough plants to do what I wanted to do!  Oh for Pete's sake!

I had to figure out what to do.  I didn't want to wait to plant until I could get more stock!  A walk to the Pick 'n Save to check over their stock of plants was out of the question, as my sciatica has been acting up something fierce for nearly 3 weeks now; fortunately the past few days it's gotten less and less painful, it is easing up.  The key is to keep moving, no matter how damn painful!  I've done walks and special exercises in an attempt to loosen up the spasming piriformis muscle that is causing the problems, but the mile round trip on foot to the Pick 'n Save -- that wasn't happening on Saturday after spending an hour stomping around the gravel pathways at Luxembourg Gardens!

So, in the end, I planted up the geraniums and added the white and green vine plants in each front porch planter (I cannot remember the name of the white and green vine plants and I can't find the tag, it's somewhere on my messy kitchen counter).  It took awhile, as I was limping around like Chester from the old Gunsmoke t.v. show (anyone remember Deputy Chester???), back and forth from front of the house to the back of the house to load up small buckets of potting soil, back and forth from front of the house to the back of the house to lug the plants to the front, etc. etc.  Each step painful.  Bending over the planters and kneeling on the concrete stoop - excruciating.  After an hour that seemed more like four, I had both planters finished and gave them a good watering with some Miracle Gro added.  Then I collapsed on the sofa, exhausted, and tried to find a good position to rest my aching left butt, hip and calf.  I promptly fell asleep... four hours!

Here's my front stoop with the pretties added, and a red/white/blue star-spangled decoration for the front door in honor of Memorial Day:
I really need to have something done about that front
sidewalk.  And I really need to turn the black metal
plant-hanging thing around to face the sidewalk.
Sorry about my reflection.  I cannot seem to take a
photo like this without getting myself in it somehow or other!
The little birdhouse is a dollar store buy a few days ago that I
spray-painted the same red as my mailbox!

A close-up of the green and white vine plant.  It's going to look
fabulous cascading over the sides of the planter boxes!
So, the plan -- for now -- is to plant the hanging planters for the back fence only with the white and pink petunias, and put the pair of uber-large asparagus ferns in the new white patio planting boxes.  They're large enough to anchor each planter.  Well, I'll see how I feel tomorrow.  I have to go to the dentist -- two fillings are on the horizon (OMG) and coming back home I need to stop at the Pick 'n Save.  If this sciatica is as good tomorrow as it is today (I've been sitting here typing now for quite some time and no pain radiating up and down my left leg like a race-car track) I may check out their plant selection...

Friday, April 10, 2015

The One Room Challenge (TM) Is Back!

Hola darlings!

Some time ago (I don't remember when), I stumbled across the Calling It Home website and a special feature put together by the creator, Linda, The One Room Challenge (TM).  I fell in enthrallment instantly!

The idea is great -- a group of twenty (yes, 20!) decorating bloggers are recruited to redo a room of their choice in six short weeks, and each of them posts the progress of their redo once a week!  Best of all, all bloggers can join in the fun and post their own "challenge" progress.

IT'S BACK!  The Spring 2015 One Room Challenge (TM) is on!  Here's the link listing the blogging designers who are participating:

as well as links to Progress Reports for Week 1 and Week 2!  I am so excited, I'm doing a jiggle happy dance in my chair as I'm typing this.

I should be doing my income taxes (Drat - am I a PRO crastinator or what?), but I'm going to spend the rest of the morning and afternoon checking out the "challenges" that each designer has chosen, as well as checking out as much as I can fit in before I fall over in exhaustion of the projects that other bloggers are linking up.  Honestly, after seeing last autumn's ORC results from the pros and the other talented bloggers who joined in, I am simply in awe of the amount of talent and inspiration made available for free!

I hope you will check it out -- it is just fabulous and great fun, too!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Look for Less: Manhattan Style Sitting Area by Horchow


I am a big fan of Horchow furnishings since I first started oohing and aahing over their ads in high end decorating magazines more than 30 years ago.  I have long loved the classic and elegant looks that Horchow features.  This morning, I visited Horchow online and fell in love with this room:

Horchow furnishings (shipping charges are additional):

Helena tufted wing chair in pearl white, $1199.00 (x 2)
John-Richard Collection carousel table lamp in white, 30" tall, $995
Global Views black granite side table, 30" tall and 30" diameter, $1899.00
Aerin Clarkson floor lamp, $750.00
Glencrest sofa in grey/brown (82" long), feather down seats and pillows, special value $1199.00
Bernhardt Heath coffee table, walnut veneers and rubberwood in raven black finish, with nickel finish ferules, 18" high, 53 3/4" long, 24" deep, $699.00

Total:  $7940.00

The look for less:

I found several chairs of a similar style in a wide price range, starting around $300 and up; most of the chairs did not have a tufted back or if they did, they weren't available in a color comparable to the original.  So, I tried to find chairs that had a similar shape/profile, accented by nailhead trim, in a light cream or white upholstery.  Here are my picks:

(1) Moore wingback chair in ivory bonded leather (no tufted back) via, $549.00 (available in more colors at; similar chair in different colors available at

(2) Paige Mandarin Wheat Upholstered Wingback Chair at Lamps Plus, $399.99:

I found the John-Richard Collection Carousel table lamp online for $110.00 less at The Classy Cottage.  I could not find a comparable size lamp of the same shape, so I shopped for size, color and shape:

(1)  At, on sale for $29.98, regularly $49.99, this 27.5" tall Mid-Century glass table lamp in gold finish, love its classic yet sleek lines and the gold finish - a classic mid-century modern look with an updated shade:

(2) At Amazon, for $128.99, this 27" tall Safavieh Paris Ceramic Table Lamp in white, with gold finished metal neck and base and white cotton drum shade, classic and elegant:

(1) Greek Key Accent Table at, $179.00.  Although this end table is not black granite and brass, it has two different metallic finishes with a glass top, three legs (one could add a granite round at the bottom), looks sturdy and stable, and the size (height and diameter) is comparable to the Global Views side table:

(2) For an option with casters (the Global Views table has casters), I went in a totally different direction and found the Deco 79 Metal Marble Cart (top is black onyx), black iron and antiqued brass finish, 30" tall, 34" x 16" wide (an oval, not round), with four locking casters, $275.76 (unfortunately, out of stock at the time I'm writing this, and I could not find it anywhere else online):

Holtkoetter Brushed Brass Narrow White Shade Floor Lamp at Lamps Plus, solid brass, brushed brass finish, hand washable white satin shade, foot dimmer, adjustable height from 53" to 68.5", $398.00 (I chose this lamp for its superb lines and beautiful brass finish):

Camden linen sofa in grey (90" long), offered by TOV Furniture at Amazon, $750.49:

I found the Bernhardt coffee table on sale at for $529.95 (compared to Horchow's price of $699.00, a savings of $130.00).  Note: at Mathis Brothers, it is called the Bernhardt Interiors Haven coffee table, but otherwise it is the identical table.  Here is my pick, chosen for its finish and modern but classic lines (and love the leather inserts on the top), the Magnussen Micah wood rectangular coffee table at Amazon, $279.77:

Look for less total cost Option 1 selections only:  $2207.00.
Look for less total cost Option 2 selections only:  $2234.00.
Look for less mix and match least expensive options:  $2058.00.
Look for less mix and match most expensive options:  $3389.00 (includes Carousel lamp and Bernhardt coffee table at the lower prices I found online).

Compared to $7940.00.