Decorating with Found Objects

Many of us love to go thrifting or antiquing for the thrill of the hunt.  You have no idea what you might uncover.  Instead of looking for something in particular, you can let yourself be drawn to shapes, shades of color or unusual graphics of objects, even if you don't know what on earth you'd do with them!  Sometimes these items have a way of evolving into a collection and then it's even more fun to go hunting.  For our "Found" theme this month, we'd like to share a few ways in which we display our found treasures, incorporating them into our decorating projects throughout our homes.

I'm a sucker for a salon style wall.  When you hang many things close together, you're looking at how the combination comes together as a whole, rather than focusing on a single piece of art.  My collection of vintage paint-by-numbers wouldn't make much of a statement if they were scattered around the house.  But put all together, I've got a colorful, kitschy composition for my guest room.  I've also incorporated a few other pieces to keep the composition from feeling too restricted by the collection.  (Check out our post on how to make a similar silhouette using your favorite books).  

Sometimes collections are more than just decorative objects.  I've been finding and collecting old tins since my father started putting little trinkets in them.  He would present them to me as treasure boxes when I was little and now he does that for his grandchildren.  When they aren't holding mementos, they are the perfect containers for small bouquets.  It's a nice little surprise when you see flowers tucked into a shelf or bookcase where you wouldn't expect them.  Similar to the paint-by-numbers above, amassing a collection of tins is a great way to show off the colors, graphics and typography that make these objects so appealing.  

Finally, an example of how we sometimes incorporate a single found object into a vignette we've already created.  Karen had made several terrariums for her table last Thanksgiving and they're still growing beautifully.  She had them set up near her entryway along with a few other favorite items.  Several weeks ago, we were out antiquing and she found this dusty, strange looking object behind some other old stuff on the floor of the shop.  We had no idea what it was but of course, that's irrelevant.  (Turns out it's an old version of a projector.  The postcard or slide would be lit and projected on a wall.  The two chimneys would allow heat to escape).  Karen loved the shape, material and size of the piece and made a home for it amongst her terrariums.  It's one of those things that you can't explain, but it makes you ridiculously happy.  (If you're Karen.)  If you're me, you're jealous that you didn't find it first.  

Setting an Eclectic Table

For our theme on found objects this month, we decided to see if we could pull out our random dishware that we've collected bit by bit and set a cohesive, appealing table.   The goal was to use only what we had on hand and not buy anything new.  


My tablecloths all have bold patterns and wouldn't work with the mix of place settings we were putting together.  But I realized I did have a sheet with a faint gold pattern on white that seemed muted enough to act as a simple backdrop.  You just tie up the corners so it doesn't drag on the floor and everyone will think you're simply going for a "casual" look.  No one will know it's a sheet, I promise!  

We love a little contrast.  Vintage china can be a bit prim so we found some rough twine and tied up the silverware to change the vibe.   Karen has a few different vintage dinner plates and I have a variety of bread plates, which I normally use for appetizers when friends come over for a glass of wine.  We both collect random, single tea cups and our extra saucers stood in for candleholders.  I have two different styles of green glassware because pieces have broken over time that I wasn't able to replace.  

We wanted a low vase for the centerpiece and Karen's large gravy boat did the trick.  We did cheat a little with the flowers but I spent only $5 on the roses and a few bucks on the cabbage.   The grapes came straight from my fridge since my kids want to inhale them every day.   Moral of the story:  If you find yourself drawn to vintage china while you're thrifting or antiquing, go ahead and start a collection.  Don't worry about getting a complete'll all come together if you simply buy what you love!  

xoxo Zandra 

Twitch and Whiskers

Mei-Ling Uliasz, Found Jewelry Artist:  

An Interview & Giveaway!

Karen and I first met Mei-Ling at a craft show a few years ago when both of us had other businesses making and selling our own handcrafted goods.  Mei-Ling is still spearheading her shop, Twitch & Whiskers, where she creates unbelievable jewelry pieces out of found treasures.  We are huge fans of her work and adore her as a friend.  She's warm and bubbly with loads of creativity to share.  So we're particularly excited to be offering one of her prized necklaces to one of you lucky readers of Little Yellow Couch!  You can enter the drawing below.  But first, let's catch up with Mei-Ling...

Little Yellow Couch: Which came first?  Collecting odds and ends and then one day realizing you could turn them into jewelry?  Or knowing you wanted to make jewelry and then looking for interesting objects?  

Mei-Ling Uliasz:  Many years ago, I took a basic jewelry making class at a local bead shop. I was inspired by wire working techniques but not by the traditional semi-precious bead selection offered at the shop. I went home and tried using the same techniques on my personal collection of vintage odds and ends. That’s when inspiration struck and my definition of jewelry "supplies" changed forever.  I first started using vintage materials that I had around the house but now I go out into the world to seek out vintage goods. When I find a piece at a flea market or consignment shop, I make sure I can visualize the object in a final piece of jewelry before purchasing it.  This helps me to be mindful of my budget, stay focused on design, and keep me off of Hoarders!

LYC:  What are some of your favorite items to use?  

MLU:  Currently, my favorite items to work with are vintage toys because they are colorful, whimsical, and you can play with them. In my work area you can find piles of tin clickers, tin whistles, Cracker Jack prizes, mini pinball games, dexterity puzzles, and Vari Vue lenticular cards. My customers enjoy how they are both interactive and amazing conversation pieces.

LYC:  You also teach full time.  Is it difficult to do both?

MLU:  I feel like it’s an absolute gift to be able to pursue both of my passions. It’s definitely a delicate balancing act doing both during the school year. School work comes first and then I find little snippets of time to create pieces in between sips of coffee in the morning or on the weekends. I find that both jobs actually complement one another.  Being around vivacious seven and eight year olds feeds my imagination and in turn, I can share my creative life with my students. When I was a second grade student, I said I wanted to be a teacher, artist, and Solid Gold dancer when I grew up. Two out of three ain’t too shabby! 

LYC:  We understand sometimes you help kids pursue their creative interests outside of school.  Can you tell us about that?  

MLU:  When I was young, my creativity was nurtured by my family, teachers, and friends and it helped me to become the person I am today. Whenever I meet a child at a craft show with creative interests, I love finding out about their projects and fostering their ideas. Over the years, I have corresponded with some of my customer’s kids and have helped them to explore the world of jewelry. I enjoy sending care packages out to kids and seeing what they come up with. After school, I also run an outreach program where students take on projects to help the community, the environment, and animals. I let the students choose how they want to raise funds and awareness, and oftentimes, these projects have creative bends to them. Students are amazed when they discover that making and selling their handmade goods can help others in the world. My big push is to show kids that there’s room for creativity in every aspect of our lives.

LYC:  You've incorporated vintage guitar knobs into some of your rings.  Is this a nod to your musician husband?  

MLU:  Absolutely! Thom plays in an experimental electronics band called Burnkit2600.  Thom and his bandmate Justin invent their own instruments through a process called circuit bending. They rewire devices like televisions and electronic toys, turning them into musical instruments. Like me, Thom has a unique collection of vintage components that gets repurposed into projects. One day, while I was poking through his box of old radio and guitar knobs, I thought “These would make great rings!” and the idea stuck. I find that we inspire each other all the time.

LYC:  You have an incredibly full schedule of juried, highly curated art and crafts shows. What do you like most about selling directly to customers?  What's the hardest part about doing shows?  

MLU:  My favorite part of doing shows is meeting new people. Vintage items are steeped in nostalgia, so when customers walk into my booth, they often share their connections to the pieces. It’s not uncommon to hear, “I used to play with that toy!” or “My mom used to have that brooch.”  I love listening to people’s memories and stories.  The hardest part about doing shows is getting there - schlepping a car full of displays and jewelry thousands of miles every year. Traveling and setting up is tiring at times but in the end, when pieces go home with happy customers and I’ve gotten to hang out with amazing artists all day, it’s more than worth it!

LYC:  Where do you think your business is headed?  What are you excited about making next? 

MLU:  I have tons of ideas brewing all the time. My newest ideas involve making larger scale pieces and creating jewelry making kits for kids. One of my goals is to get Twitch and Whiskers jewelry into more shops and strengthen my online presence. My biggest hope is to collaborate with my husband and make some musical pieces. For the time being, I am getting to know my new second graders and preparing for my 2014 holiday craft show season. Once things settle down a bit in January, we’ll see which ideas rise to the top!

And now for the GIVEAWAY!!!  

We are so excited about this, folks!  You can enter to win this adorable OWL NECKLACE (Retail price: $48) by doing any or all of the following:

This giveaway is also posted on the Home Work blog's giveaway link party.

FOUND: Lost Mad Men Cocktail!

For our "Found" theme this month, we've decided to depart from our usual cocktail post. Typically, Jason is concocting something original or adding his own spin on a traditional drink. This time, we wanted to see if we could find a long forgotten libation from a vintage recipe book and revive it.  In this deliciously Mad Men-esque booklet produced by Calvert Distillers Company in 1960, we found a cocktail called the Souvenir.  Here it is, in all its Mod fabulousness!  


1 Part Calvert Reserve (Whiskey)
1 Part Dry Vermouth
1/2 Part Dubbonet
1/2 Part Orange Juice
1 Slice Orange

Stir well with ice.  Strain into cocktail glass.  

Songs go in and out like hem lines, instead the good ones wait patiently for each generation to find them.  Dream A Little Dream was written in 1938 and has been lost and found several times a decade since. Here for your swilling pleasure is my favorite current incarnation.

Wendy Lane

Follow Wendy Lane Bailey, Little Yellow Couch's Musical Consultant each month as she infuses a bit of music into each of our themes!

Found Music: Street Performers & Pianos

Sometimes I teach master classes for performers and when I do, one of the exercises I use is called “Sending Hearing Out”. Here’s how it works:  Stop what you’re doing, close your eyes, and sit perfectly still for two minutes.  While you’re doing that, listen to every sound in the room, then listen for every sound you can hear outside the room, down the hall, out the window, in the parking lot…Now open your eyes. What did you hear? Did you hear the music? There is music all around us, but how often do we stop to hear it? Even walking down the street.  Especially  walking down the street.  For this month's theme, "Found," I want to share some of the music you can find all over the place.  Just don't forget to stop and listen...

Did you know that Tracy Chapman, Robin Williams, Pierce Brosnan (fire eating), and Benjamin Franklin (singing & reciting original poetry) all started out as street performers?   Above, Portuguese singer Susana Silva performs on a bridge in London.  Finding her music will take your breath away.

If you want to take a more active role in the music there’s English artist Luke Jerram’s Play Me I’m Yours Project. Beginning in 2008, Jerram has worked with local artists in forty five cities around the world (with more coming in 2015) to decorate and place pianos in public spaces. Anyone who happens by can play them. This has resulted in people interacting with each other in a whole new way, spontaneous concerts (often by well known artists) and at least two marriages ( ). This has to be one of my favorite public art projects ever!  Above is Gillian Cosgriff's cover of Pharrell Williams' "Happy."  

So my challenge to you this month is to go out, keep your eyes open and “find” some music. If you’re in a city that has a street piano maybe even make some music that others can find!  We’ll be here waiting to hear all about it!

Wendy Lane

Wendy Lane Bailey is our regular guest columnist on all things musical!  You can hear her on her website:

Displaying a Collection

For this month's Vignette, we decided to display a collection in keeping with our "Found" theme. Collections, by definition, are objects of personal interest that are found over time.  Sometimes people will tell us that they get overwhelmed while they're antiquing because they don't know where to start. Having a collection in mind is a great way to focus your eye whenever you're out and about at a yard sale, thrift store or antiques fair.  The only thing you need to start a collection is one object that draws you in for a particular reason.  It could be a particular vintage make (think of all of those collections of Fiesta ware or Pyrex).  Or a beloved animal.  Or even a specific color.  For me, it's often the shape of something, which is how I started to collect pitchers and creamers.  Something about the spout and handle was really appealing to me.

I didn't necessarily know I was going to start a collection when I had that moment of "I-don't-know-why-but-I-can't-leave-this-booth-without-this-creamer" feeling.    

But what often happens with collections is that you buy one thing on impulse and end up truly loving it.  Then, the next time you're out poking around your eye is naturally drawn toward a similar object and you think, OH!  I'd love to have that one, too!  The next thing you know, you've got a third, and in our book, three of anything is considered a collection!  

For this vignette, I knew I needed to add various heights to my display so that each creamer and pitcher was given its proper due.  Since we're talking about collections, I decided to incorporate some things from one of my other collections: old books with interesting colors and graphics.  They make the perfect stepping stools and I like having one collection be useful in a way it wasn't originally meant to be used.  

Here's how we built the display, piece by piece:    

First, I knew I wanted at least three different levels.  (Working in odd numbers generally gives a natural flow to whatever display you're creating.  Working in evens will give you a more classic symmetrical look).  I started with a tall stack of books just a touch off-center, two books on one side and a single book on the other.  

Then I placed the taller and bigger pitchers on top, adding two of the smallest next to them, for contrast.

It looked like I was going to need a little more variation in height on the sides but I didn't have room to stack more books.  So instead, I stood them upright.  

Placing two creamers on top of the upright books looked pretty good but since the rest of my creamers were short, it looked like I was going to need even more staggered heights.  I used a short white pillar candle and a cream ramekin turned upside down, both on one side to keep the vignette asymmetrical.

My last three creamers and pitchers filled in the rest.  But something was missing...

Flowers!  I almost always incorporate a natural element into any vignette I'm making.  I love how a drooping bud, curvy feather, or twisted piece of wood adds flow to the man-made objects.  For my aesthetic it's all about contrast.  How about you?  What are your favorite ways to display your collections?  We'd love to share your photos with other readers so please send them our way: info {at} littleyellowcouch {dot} com.  



P.S.  Don't forget to fill out our survey and enter our raffle!  You could win the chance to choose any item from our shop that you like!  ANY ITEM!  (Not to mention that your feedback on the survey will be invaluable to us)!  Go to our Birthday post to start the survey and fill out the raffle form.  

Looking to learn more about incorporating "FOUND" objects into your decor?  We are loving these books for inspiration ...

Shopping List: FOUND

This month, we’re exploring the theme “Found,” and what it means to find unexpected treasures that become fused with our daily lives.  We believe in collecting and owning things that have personal meaning so that our homes are filled with objects that reflect our aesthetic as well as our life stories.  From utilitarian pieces to linens and dishware to jewelry and art, the story behind how we find these things becomes part of the objects themselves, and ultimately, why we love them. 

1.  Custom University of Alabama Game Day Skirt via Put Your Game On
2.  Vintage Avocado Green Suitcase Shelves via The Cherry Chic
3.  Industrial Style Bottle Lamp - Jim Beam Chandelier via New Wine Old Bottles
4.  Repurposed Leather Fringe Necklace via Half Past Noon
5.  Kelly Green repurposed treadmill B.E.L.T. via Your New Favorite Belt
6.  Walnut Ring with Guitar String Inlay via Grand Junction Guy
7.  Reclaimed Wood Wine Rack via JNM Rustic Designs
8.  Chief Bifold Dome Wallet: Orange Vinyl Design via PUP Shop
9.  Vintage Brooch Bib Necklace via Bee Vintage Redux
10.  Reclaimed Barn Wood Table via Hammer Head Creations
11.  Repurposed Blanket Ukulele Case in Aqua and Orange via By Marie-Nicole
12.   Industrial Barrel Chair via White's Modern Industrial
13. Reclaimed Wood Photographic Wall Art Sculpture via Angela Collier Photography 
14.  Vintage Pepsi Crate Dog Feeder via Vintage Crate Feeders


To Celebrate Our 1st Birthday here at LYC, we would love if you would take a few quick minutes to tell us what you think by clicking on the link below!  Then, enter to win a gift of your choice from our shop as a birthday gift from us!!!  xoxo Karen June & Zandra

Happy 1st Birthday, Little Yellow Couch!

This month marks the one year anniversary of the launch of our venture, Little Yellow Couch.  We're uncorking the champagne and celebrating a year’s worth of love, sweat and tears (or at least misty eyes over DIYs gone bad), along with an appreciation for the support and encouragement we’ve received from our readers.  

When one of you writes a note saying that our stories resonate with you or that you're inspired by our photography, we know we’re on the right track.  But we also get a kick out of the responses that go something like this: “You’ve got to be kidding me!  How would normal people ever do something as build a stage set for a party, ask people to dress up and spend hours on make-up and prop building just for an excuse to get together and have a few drinks?!”  

Yeah.  We know we can be a bit…well…ridiculous.  But hey, that’s why you love us, right?  For the entertainment! 

Going forward, we’d like to do more of what you’re interested in and continue to find inspiration that we all can share.  And for that, we need your feedback!!!

So please, (pretty please!) take our Reader Response Survey, below.  For your participation, you can enter our raffle to win one item from our shop...whichever one you choose!!!

LYC 2014 Reader Response

LYC 2014 Reader Response

About You
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Please answer some basic questions about yourself:
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3. Location of primary residence: *This question is required.
4. How many blogs do you read at least once a week? *This question is required.
5. How often do you go online for DIY ideas/help? *This question is required.
6. How often do you go online for party or entertaining ideas? *This question is required.
7. How often do you go online to find ideas/inspiration for your home? *This question is required.
8. How often do you go online to look for clothes and/or jewelry? *This question is required.
9. How often do you go online for recipe and/or cocktail ideas? *This question is required.

August Wrap Up: Childhood Beaches

Two New England beaches, two childhoods.  Karen and I both grew up at the ocean's edge every summer, carrying on family traditions in tiny cottages with freezing outdoor showers and wide open windows at night.  And now, we're taking our kids to the same spots, building sandcastles in the same sand and jumping the waves in the same tides.  Beaches are funny that way.  Going to the beach is unlike other vacations where you purposefully seek out new adventures in places previously unexplored.  Going to the beach means pulling out the same, worn out deck of cards on a rainy day and biking to the same market to get doughnuts every morning.  It means eating lobster rolls on the same ocean cliff and then scrambling down the rocks, daring to get as close as possible to the waves crashing in.  It's about taking photographs of your children in all of their glorious, sun drenched color every year, trying to capture the subtle changes in who they're becoming against the same background of ocean, sand and sky.  

Karen June's Beach: Scituate, MA

Madeline & James, Karen's Grandmother and father; Karen in the waves; Karen with her son, Kolya

Madeline & James, Karen's Grandmother and father; Karen in the waves; Karen with her son, Kolya


Zandra's Beach: Scarborough, ME

Zandra in front of her grandparents' cottage; Zandra on fishing pier:  Zandra on the rocks with her sons, Quinn & Calvin

Zandra in front of her grandparents' cottage; Zandra on fishing pier:  Zandra on the rocks with her sons, Quinn & Calvin

We hope you've enjoyed your summer and our two months devoted to "On The Waterfront!"  We'll see you in September!

xoxo Karen June & Zandra

FOUND: A Jewelry Making Workshop

If you'll be in the Boston area, we'd love to have you join us for a special workshop!

We will lead a small group of people in the design and techniques of making a statement necklace that you can take home.  NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY!!!

Each participant will receive a basic jewelry making tool kit, a handmade tool pouch, and a variety of vintage jewelry, beads, chains, pins and ephemera to work with.  

No LYC event would be complete without cocktails and sweets so plan on spending time socializing as well!  

* Bonus Jewelry Rx: Bring any broken chains or jewelry pieces that you'd like to fix and we'll do our best to mend them!  

Cost: $40 Materials Fee

RSVP to info {at} littleyellowcouch {dot} com

Spaces are extremely limited!  

Hope you can make it!


Karen June & Zandra

Printable Workshop Flyer can be found HERE.

Quick Idea: Beachcombing for Desk Accessories

As we head into September, there's that familiar buzz of back-to-school shopping that always gets me in the mood for re-doing my office.  This year, I've kept a couple of the larger shells we've collected on the beach to use for my desk.  

I've simply cut out some pretty floral paper and glued them onto the shells, then added a layer of the same decoupage medium on top.  Using a metalic gold Sharpie, I've labeled them for paperclips, thumbtacks and stamps.

Voila!  A new set of desk accessories to remind you of relaxing summer walks on the beach while getting ready for the rush of September!  



Personalized Souveniers

Remember as a kid how you deliberated over which souvenir to buy with your special stash of vacation money?  As adults, the magnets, shot glasses and snowglobes created especially for tourists don't cut it anymore.  So, what do you choose as a memento that will do justice to your memories?  Sometimes on our travels we're lucky enough to find an item that feels remarkably special, such as a piece of art.  Or a necklace from a tiny boutique tucked out of sight from the well worn tourist path.  But the following souvenirs we've created are equally personal and, best of all, completely free.  

Collect matchbooks from favorite restaurants while on vacation.  When you get home (or even on a rainy day if you're stuck inside), tear out the matches.  Cut a piece of paper the width of the matchbook and fold it accordion-style, attaching one end to the inside of the cover.  Jot down the names of your favorite experiences, meals, shops, etc that you've found on vacation and tuck your mementos in a clear glass jar for display.  

If the restaurants you're going to offer matchboxes instead of books, these can be turned into miniature treasure chests to hold the smallest items you find on vacation, such as a shell you've picked up on the beach or a piece of salt water taffy from the boardwalk.  Print out a few snapshots from vacation and cut them down to the size of the matchbook to create a tiny photo box.  For each matchbox, write down one of your favorite things about vacation on slips of paper and tuck inside.  Glue the edges of the boxes together in a pyramid shape and stand it up as a piece of interactive ephemera. 

Map Journal
Before you go on vacation, find a map of the area you'll be visiting and cut it into the size of a journal or glue sections of the map to card stock for the cover.  Add some blank pages for writing.  Tape some other parts of the map to the pages and create pockets to hold mementos you find on your travels.  Simply punch two holes along the folds of your papers to tie the pages together with string.  Label the front with the place and date of your vacation and start a collection of map journals for all of your adventures.

For more ideas on creating personalized souvenirs and other exclusive content, sign up for our newsletter!   Scroll up.  The subscription box is on the right!  

Here's to great memories! 


Zandra & Karen June

Anchor Recipe Cards (Free Printable)

Need a thank you gift for friends who have lent you their beach cottage or invited you for a weekend at the lake?  Print out a set of these recipe cards and fill in the first one with our take on classic fish tacos.  Tie them up with pretty ribbon and maybe add a hand carved wooden spoon to complete the gift!  


Karen June

Anchor Recipe Card Printable 

* Anchor image altered from Graphics Fairy.

4 flaky white fish filets (snapper, mahi mahi, etc)
salt & pepper
1 lemon
8 flour tortillas 

1/3 c. olive oil
1/4 c. white balsamic vinegar
1/2 c. fresh flat leaf parsley
1/2 c. fresh cilantro 
2 med. shallots
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
zest of 1 lime
pinch salt & pepper

1 avocado
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced 
2 limes, quartered
sour cream

Lay fish in pan, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and juice of 1 lemon.  Refrigerate for 1/2 hour. Meanwhile, combine next 9 ingredients in a food processor to make the sauce and then refrigerate until serving.  Heat oven to 400.  Cook fish until flaky (a thick filet cut should take 25-30 minutes).  In the mean time, place a wet paper towel on a dish, layer with tortillas and cover with another wet paper towel.  Microwave for 1-2 minutes on medium and wrap them in foil afterwards to keep warm.  Slice red onion, avocado and limes, serving each in separate bowls.  Scoop sour cream and pre-made sauce into bowls. Slice fish and serve on a platter, garnished with sprig of parsley or cilantro.  Set out your fish, toppings and tortillas and dig in.  

Serves 4.
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 30 min

Waterfront Tabletop, 3 Ways

I've been dreaming of owning a little cottage on the waterfront for years.  Whenever we rent a place on the beach, I wake up, stare at the ceiling and imagine how I would re-paint it or change out the curtains and refurnish the screened-in porch.  Here's how I might lay out a dining room table, depending on whether I was living on a lake, a tropical island or by the ocean.


I'm picturing a cabin at the edge of the woods, looking down on a shimmering lake.  The walls are all made of natural logs, there's a stone fireplace and cozy wool blankets for winter.  In the summer, the large windows let in the sunlight, beckoning you down the steps and onto the dock where you can jump in a canoe and spend the morning on the water.  When you come back for lunch, you might pull out these items to set your table:  

Napkin Holders via Ocean Swept

Tablecloth via Anthropologie

Lanterns for Candles via Anthropologie

Pitcher via Toast Ceramics (as seen on Scout Mob)


There are tons of kitschy ways to lay out a "tropical" table, but we know we'd quickly get tired of the tounge-in-cheek palm tree look.  Instead we're going for a more subtle approach allowing some brightly colored flowers and stunningly fresh food take center stage.  

Napkins via Crate & Barrel

Tablecloth via Terrain

Pitcher via Anthropologie

Lanterns for Candles via Crate & Barrel


This is where my heart lives.  I'm an ocean girl through and through and I would love nothing more than to own napkins printed with a line drawing of a great sailing vessel!  I can picture stringing lights around the porch and leaving some inside these terrific lanterns, throwing on a simple tablecloth and serving up a bright red lobster on this delicious wave-patterned plate.  All after a day of playing in the salt water and reading a trashy murder mystery on the beach!  

Tablecloth via Crate & Barrel

Napkins via Oh Little Rabbit

Platter via Jessica Howard

Lanterns via Terrain

Which table setting speaks to you the most?  Let us know in the comments.  And vote for your most favorite item!  Also, send us a photo of your own version of a waterfront table... we'd love to see & share!  



P.S.  Check out these book for further inspiration:

Quick Idea: Rope Lampshade

As much as I enjoy sunshine when I'm at the ocean, I secretly love a rainy day at the beach so I can laze around playing solitaire and reading a good book.  But I also like to get my hands on an easy project while I listen to the rain coming down.  Here's a super quick way to add a little rustic, nautical charm to a side table, perfect for a waterfront cottage.  And you can do it in under an hour!  


Find an old lampshade at a thrift store.  Using an Exact-o knife, cut off all of the fabric or paper and peel it away from the edges.  You can soak it it warm, soapy water if you're having trouble removing it all.  If you'd rather buy a new frame, you can order one online.  We recommend The Lamp Shop.  For about 10 bucks you can get a hexagonal frame like the one we've used here.  

Using jute or other natural twine, tie off one end of your rope and start wrapping it around the frame, vertically.   You'll need a LOT of rope so you might want to buy a new spool before you get started.  If you have a drum shade, you'll probably just use one, long continuous piece of twine.  If you have multiple sides like ours, you might choose to do each side with its own piece, tying off twice per side so that you have little knots around the bottom edge of your shade.  Totally up to you!

xoxo Zandra

DIY: Bleach Pen Shirts


Cotton T-Shirt
Bleach Pen
Transfer Paper
Tin Foil

Whale Design (front end)
Whale Design (back end)

Transfer a design onto your t-shirt using transfer paper.  For our light colored t-shirt, we used graphite paper.  Print out our whale design or find one of your own.  We freehanded the text on our Follow the Stars t-shirt.  

Cover a large piece of cardboard or foam core with tin foil and slip inside your shirt so that the bleach doesn't soak through to the back of your shirt.

Squeeze a thin line of bleach from your pen and trace the outline of your design.  

Allow your bleach to set for 10 minutes. You will notice that the bleach will seep a small amount.  Carefully slide the cardboard out from the inside of your t-shirt.  Make sure to not allow the bleach to touch other areas of your shirt.  Hold under a heavy stream of cold water in your sink and wash off all of the bleach.  It will have gelled together by this point, so won't run across your fabric.  Gently wash your t-shirt by hand using hand soap.  Now you can throw it in the wash along with your other laundry.  

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Flower Arrangement: Island Edition

For this month’s flower arrangement, we weren’t sure how to represent our “On The Waterfront” theme.  Add a swizzle stick decorated with a fish?  Use a vase made of shells?  Um…no.  Then I realized that I was only thinking of our typical New England rocky coast and cold lakes for inspiration.  Why not dream about the tropics and go for something that might come from a warm and breezy island instead?

I wasn’t at all sure what I would find at my usual flower shops but when I spotted these huge ginger leaves, I knew I had the base.   Karen then suggested they act as a backdrop, standing upright against a wall.  If we could have stapled them to some driftwood we would have, but the florist told me they curled up quickly out of water.  Instead I placed each one in its own small glass (ones I usually use for votives).  You have to cut the bottoms of the leaves up a bit because there isn’t much of a stem.  

Given that we didn’t have access to any birds-of-paradise or other exotic flowers, I was hoping to use orchids.  Those however, turned out to be $30/stem, which I just couldn’t swallow.  After all, we’re encouraging you to think of these monthly flower arrangements as an every-day kind of thing so we’ll save the orchids for a special event.  Anyway, I decided on using the humble day lily as a focal point.  Even though it’s ubiquitous around here, I still think it’s a terrific looker and worth showing off.  

In front of the three small glasses holding the ginger leaves I’ve used a rectangular box (I stole it from my bathroom…it’s one of those stone containers for cotton balls or Q-tips), fitted with some wet floral foam.  You simply soak the foam in water, cut to fit your container and place inside.  I needed something to trail a bit over the container to hide the foam.  The Bipurum is great for this job, as would any "filler" flower you find at your florist.  The last detail is the straw flower, AKA "Crespedia." I love how sculptural they are, especially when they’re standing at attention.  

So.  Imagine you're at an open-air bar on the beach, sipping a drink that comes with a little umbrella.  Next to you is this tropical flower arrangement and you breathe in its scent as you admire the glorious sunset.  Are you feeling it?  We hope so!  

xoxo Zandra  

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Quick Idea: Brass Bracket Frame

On one of our many hunting trips to antique shows, we found these wonderful brass...things.  There's some question about what they were originally used for.  (If you know or have a guess, leave it in the comment box below)!  At any rate, we loved the brass and it made us think of old ships and the hardware that might have been used, say, during the New England whaling period.  To us, they looked like little frames.

We each chose to frame something that represented a favorite image for our "On The Waterfront" theme.  Karen found an old black & white of a man at sea and I had this little painting from an artist living in Maine.  We were planning on hanging them directly on the wall using the holes in the sides.  When taking photos for this post, however, we simply placed them on top of some vintage books.  Turns out, we love how the colors of the covers offset the brass frames and so we'll affix them to the books permanently, creating a larger piece of found art!  

Next time you're antiquing* keep your eyes out for anything that could be used to frame a small image.  Or perhaps you can find something similar, maybe a light switch plate, in your local hardware store.  Glue the whole thing onto an old book and you'll have yourself a little conversation starter.  Pretty cool, huh?  

xoxo Karen June & Zandra

* Looking for your own vintage brass brackets ... check out these great shops on Etsy:

Retro Collecto
DK General Store
Pippa Marx Studio
Vintage Flea Finds
Stock In Trade
Vintage Flea Finds
Rescued Carolina


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Before & After: Waterfront Bar

Karen and I love a good Before&After project.  I found this little number at a thrift store and was drawn to its small size, figuring it could be a quick turn-around.   Plus, I'd been thinking of making a summer cocktail station.  (For my imaginary-future beach house, for which I've been collecting odds and ends for years so that I'm fully prepared to move in as soon as the opportunity presents itself).  

We were particularly excited to try out Cari Cucksey's new line of paint which she's selling under her RePurpose brand.  We met Cari at the Country Living Fair in NY and fell in love with her colors.  For the bar, I chose the Grand Hotel Flowers Red, thinking it would offset the interior, which I already had plans for.  She also sells a terrific primer and sealer.

I've collected a bunch of nautical charts of the Gulf of Maine and Casco Bay and used them to line the interior of the shelves.  Some of my favorite places on the waterfront are there, including Portland and Acadia National Park.  Here's the final project:

To celebrate our "On The Waterfront" theme, I made a paper garland of signal flags, each flag representing a letter of the alphabet.  I took some liberties with the shapes so they wouldn't all be rectangular to spell out "Happy Hour" and hung them over the bar.  I want guests to feel they can mosey up and help themselves to a drink before dinner as everyone gathers to relax on the porch.  (Again, this is all happening in my imaginary beach house.  For now, everyone will have to make do with just the bar and good conversation amongst friends).  



* Always take an extra few minutes to sand your painting surface.  
* Cari Cucksey and her team have also created a 
* When lining the shelves with maps (or other decorative paper), measure and cut the side panels, adding 1/4" to the interior side and bottom edges.  Then measure and cut the back panel, adding the top of the shelf so that you have one continuous piece.  
* Brush decoupage glue (I used Mod Podge) onto one side panel at a time and lay your map on the glue starting at the top edge and rolling it down, smoothing the paper as you go.  
* Cover the back and top of shelf panels after the sides.  Use a bone folder or edge of a credit card to smooth out any air bubbles.  
* Add two layers of Mod Podge on top of the paper surfaces and then a final layer of shellac to seal.  

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ReMake: Paint Dipped Oars

For this project, I found an old set of oars at the Brimfield Antique Show for about $40.  They have a great weathered look and we thought that adding a modern striped pattern with a touch of gold would make a nice contrast.  I plan on using them as an affordable piece of sculpture in my home.    


Karen and I are both loving the paint dipped craze right now.  (For one of our party invites, we dipped the ends of wooden spoons into paint, which you can see here).  As for larger items, we've seen the legs of pretty much every piece of furniture altered by adding paint to the bottoms.  This gave us the idea to paint the "legs" of the oars.  Technically, I couldn't dip the oars because it was obvious to us fairly quickly that we'd need a whole lot of paint and some ridiculously tall, skinny buckets to actually dip them.  So instead, we put the old painter's tape trick to work.  The thing is, I've had some rotten luck with taping off edges when I paint.  It often seems that the color leaks under the tape or I peel off some of the paint when the tape is removed.  (Anyone else feeling my pain?).  I thought I'd give it one more try since I really, really wanted to go for this paint dipped look.  

This time, I used the Frog brand of painter's tape (see our supply list, below).  I chose a very light mint, a coral and a nautical blue for the stripes.  I was doing a little jig when I pulled off the first piece of tape and saw a perfectly even line of blue.  All Hail the Frog Tape Miracle!  I used the width of the tape to determine the spaces where the wood would show through.  For the times when there were two colors touching (the blue and the coral), I did the coral first, let it dry and then re-taped for the blue.  The final touch was some thin gold stripes that I did freehand using a Sharpie paint pen.  I'm really happy with the results!  Let us know if you've tried anything similar...we'd love to see your photos!



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