Monday, July 22, 2013

Royal Baby Celebration: Free Kate Printable

I love Kate Middleton...I mean, sorry, the Duchess of Cambridge. She handles herself with so much grace and poise, and she is masterful at pulling off looks that are both sophisticated and sexy. Plus she managed to snag Prince William, who seems to be an all around nice guy, and I appreciate that their relationship hasn't been without issues.

And when she had her multimillion dollar wedding, her marriage lasted longer than 72 days.

So in celebration of the new royal baby, I'm offering up this free printable that I used to make one of the pieces of artwork available in my space at Sweet Clover.

Click here to download a free PDF of this image, formatted for a 5x7 picture frame. Feel free to share a picture if you decide to use it for a project!

New Camera

Photography is a pretty important part of blogging and I'm the first to admit that mine has been, well, sub-par. The last camera I bought was a Canon point and shoot that I purchased ahead of my study abroad trip to Oxford in 2008, but I've really been using my iPhone to take most of my pictures lately. I have a hard time ponying up a lot of money for something without researching it to death, so it's easy for me to put off such a purchase for a long time. Then, a week ago I had a call to action. Cassie of Primitive and Proper posted pictures of the Sweet Clover Sale Preview, and there was all the evidence I needed, right in front of me. My furniture looked so much better in her pictures, so much so even that I used her pictures on my post about the sale instead of my own.

In terms of listing furniture on Craigslist, the difference wasn't a big deal. But in terms of building a portfolio and blogging in a Pinterest-savvy world, the better photos were a huge wake up call. So I decided to go for it. Last night I stayed up late researching DSLRs and finally settled on the Canon T3i with the 18-55mm lens kit. I also bought the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Autofocus Lens, otherwise known as the Nifty Fifty, which comes highly recommended by many photographers/bloggers.
Via B&H
I settled on the T3i after reading many reviews of the camera alone, as well as a bunch of reviews of the T3i compared to it's newer, more expensive counterparts like the T5i (the T4i has been discontinued). It's supposed to be great for beginners, a good value, and it was in my price range. After looking at options through Amazon where I get extra rewards since I have an Amazon credit card, I settled on buying it through B&H because it included a bag, a 16 GB memory card, and an extra battery for the same price as the camera was available on The total came to about $730, which is a whole lot of money for me. But I'm kind of relieved to have finally purchased it, and I'm super excited to learn how to use it. 

Has anyone else invested in something fun lately? Have any tips for me as I learn to use my new camera?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Chairs and More Chairs

For some odd reason, I have a habit of picking up random chairs from thrift stores, yard sales, and auctions. I end up accumulating them in my basement until I have the energy to take on another upholstery project. So it seems natural that my space at the Sweet Clover Barn should be overrun by chairs.

This month I have four in my space itself. I have a pair of these really fun cane-back armchairs on casters:

I also have this cool mid-century channel-back armchair with funky orange upholstery, which is in great shape. And do you see that little high chair peeking out from the right side of the photo?

As if those four weren't enough, I also have two upholstered chairs out in the cottage behind the Sweet Clover Barn. Every month, Sweet Clover will be featuring a theme in the cottage, and will use pieces from a number of the vendors to fill the space. This month they are doing a "Summer Soiree" theme, which uses white and neutral foundation pieces surrounded by colorful chairs and accessories.

I actually have two more of these types of chairs in my basement, but I need to repair them and reupholster them, so look for them at a later sale!

And does this little stool count as a chair? It's for sitting, right? Does that bring my total for this month to 7? I think I might have a problem.

All of these items will be available at the Sweet Clover Barn Sale this weekend, Friday - Sunday, 10 am - 5 pm!

P.S. I stole photos 1, 2, 3, and 5 from the Sweet Clover Barn Sale July Preview album on the Sweet Clover Facebook page. Check out the other awesome stuff that's available this month!

Linked to:

Furniture Feature Fridays

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Duck Egg Blue Dresser

Last night I finished setting up my space at the Sweet Clover Barn in preparation for this weekend's sale. We'll be open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10 am - 5 pm. Hope to see you there!

I only added two pieces of furniture to my space this month. The first is the herringbone table I showed you last week, and the second is a gorgeous antique dresser that I painted in ASCP Duck Egg. I gave it two coats, but I went light around the details on the drawers because I like the wood to show through a bit. The detail on the front was missing in places, but I think that adds to the interest and texture on the drawer fronts.

I stole this photo from the Sweet Clover Facebook Page since Cassie of Primitive and Proper is a way better photographer than me!

I finished this dresser with wax, and I love the way the top looks. There's a very subtle variation in the color which gives it more depth.

I'll be back tomorrow to share more of my Sweet Clover space! I'll also upload most of my inventory to my facebook page, so be sure to like it!

Linked to:
Furniture Feature Fridays

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Herringbone Drop Leaf Table

I'm busy working on some furniture and accessories for the Sweet Clover, and I wanted to share one of my latest projects.

Photo from the Sweet Clover Facebook Page
This table was in ROUGH shape when I picked it up. It was painted lime green with a really crummy paint job, and the top of it was all kinds of beat up. I decided to strip and power sand the top. I stained the top with General Finishes Java Gel stain, and put a layer of Varathane poly to seal the stain so that it wouldn't bleed through the painted pattern. Then I measured and taped off the herringbone pattern, and painted two coats of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Duck Egg. I painted the rest of the piece Duck Egg and sanded it all down with a super fine grit sanding sponge. I opted to seal the table with poly since I had already sealed the stain with poly and I figured it would be more durable. 

I love it! It will be available in my space at Sweet Clover next weekend. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Life Updates: New-ish Jobs

I cannot believe it's July and I haven't updated you all on some major life changes that came my way a few months ago. It's high time I let you all in on a blogger secret I've been keeping since March (yes, March). It wasn't that I didn't want to tell you, I just put off writing the post and then had to wrangle up some photos and before I knew it, it was July. Whoops.

But anyway, drum roll please....

I am no longer working as a government contractor! In March I started working part time as the Design Assistant for Arlington Home Interiors. The firm is a residential design firm owned by Suzanne Manlove (my new-ish boss). I knew that in a field like design, where everyone covets that precious unpaid internship or busts their butts to get a job at a big architecture and design firm, experience would be oh-so-important upon graduation from grad school. So when a position for a paid design assistant came across our student listserv, I jumped at the opportunity to apply. And I got it!

 We work out of Suzanne's home in Arlington and have our hands in projects throughout the Arlington community. I have been loving every minute of it. I am learning a TON about the inner workings of a design firm, which can only really happen through an experience like this. When I took the job a few people asked me if I was worried about working with only one other person all the time, but I'm learning that I really enjoy working in a small firm. The cool thing about working in a small firm is that I have so many opportunities to learn directly from the business owner, and I get to witness every project's challenges and successes first-hand. I think I'd like to own my own business someday, so watching Suzanne do it successfully while balancing family and maintaining a good work-life balance is an extremely valuable learning experience too.

Via Arlington Home Interiors
Via Arlington Home Interiors
Via Arlington Home Interiors
Side note: For those of you who are serial to-do list makers, this type of work is incredibly satisfying. It seems so minor and somewhat superficial, but I love spending a day ordering an entire living room's worth of decor and seeing it all crossed off my list when I'm leaving the office. Working in interior design provides a nice combination of working on something medium-long term to satisfy my desire to work towards something "big", while also requiring a host of discrete, quick tasks that give me some immediate gratification and help build momentum during the work day. 

So that's my first update. My second update is that when I left my government contractor job and started working at Arlington Home Interiors, I ended up with a second job too. Since March, I've also been working in the Stylish Patina vintage home decor shop in Falls Church on the weekends. I connected with Kelly, the owner, prior to snagging my position at Arlington Home Interiors. When I was presented with opportunities in both places, I knew I couldn't choose just one.  Kelly has built a successful business on her love for acquiring and refreshing antique and vintage furniture, which is where my love for design was born. I knew there was so much to learn from her, and since the shop is only a few blocks from my house, working there is a great fit. Plus, who am I kidding? I'm in grad school, I can use the extra moolah. 
The Stylish Patina shop is loaded with cool vintage furniture and treasures, and has a great assortment of new items like cards, candles, books, and other accessories. It also has an entire section dedicated to DIY, so you can come in and purchase Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint among other paints and materials. If you come by on a Saturday afternoon, chances are you'll find me there. I love to help people think through their projects and talk to them about the various paint products we sell, and I also love to help people imagine various uses for the furniture we have in the shop, so definitely come visit me if you're in the area. Stylish Patina is also doing a vintage "Rough Luxe" warehouse tag sale in Falls Church the third weekend of every month in our warehouse down the street from the shop. So you can hit up Sweet Clover and Rough Luxe all in the same weekend!

via Stylish Patina
I have more updates for you, but I think this is enough for today. Has anyone else made a major career move lately?

4th of July Weekend Recap

Last Wednesday the boy and I flew to Tampa to hang out with his family over the 4th of July long weekend. He grew up in Northern VA like me, but his parents have an apartment on the beach in Clearwater and spend a lot of time down there, so we stayed at their place.

The boy's dad is a frequent, frequent, frequent flier and was kind enough to buy our flights with miles. We were even able to fly first class down! It was my first time flying first class, and we took full advantage of the free beverage service. 

After arriving in Tampa late Wednesday night, we went to bed and woke up early so we could get some beach time before heading up to Gainesville to visit the boy's brother at the University of Florida.   

We stayed with the boy's brother in a house with 5 other guys from his frat. It wasn't technically a frat house, but it basically was. Luckily they had some "new" couches that were in acceptable sleeping condition. And we were only there one night, so we didn't have to shower there (thank god). It was the boy's brother's 21st birthday AND the 4th of July, so there was quite a bit going on. We tried to keep up, but one thing is for sure: we're not in college anymore.

On our way back to Clearwater the next day, we got stuck in some major traffic and it took us what felt like forever to get home. We wanted to hit the beach, but it started storming like crazy shortly after we walked through the door. If there's one thing I learned about Florida last weekend, it's that the weather there is predictably unpredictable. It can be perfectly gorgeous and five minutes later, raining so hard you can't see out your windshield. Or it can be pouring rain as you walk out of a restaurant but the apartment where you're staying a mile away is completely dry. And then there's the heat lightning, which is kind of a fake out because you're so used to the stormy weather that at night you can hardly tell whether it's heat lightning or lightning from an actual storm that's headed your way. Here's my advice for Florida in the summer: bring a raincoat. 

I was pretty happy it rained Friday because I wasn't in much condition to do anything but sleep, which is how we spent our rainy afternoon. Friday night we went out to eat at Crabby Bill's in Indian Rocks Beach. The atmosphere was fun and I enjoyed my fried crab cakes, but the service was a little slow and not everyone was happy with their food. It seems like a great place to go with kids, but our overall feeling towards it was "meh". This time at least. The boy's family has been going there for a while, so it's definitely worth checking out. Maybe it was just an off night.

Saturday and Sunday we spent some quality time on the beach, followed by some quality time at the pool. Saturday night we ate at an Italian place called Villa Gallace per the birthday boy's request, and it was delicious. Naturally I ate way too much lasagna, but still made room for some yummy red velvet cake from Frida's Cafe & Bakery

Sunday night we ate at a small dive place called Dock Side Dave's in Madeira Beach. They have great seafood, especially grouper, which is a speciality in Tampa. The boy's parents swear by their grouper sandwiches, which are humongous and are served a number of different ways. I had the grouper tacos and they were awesome, too. 

After dinner, the boy and I hit up a few local bars and then called it a night. The next morning we woke up and made our journey back to DC. 

It was the first time I've been on a true vacation in a while, so it was really nice to take advantage of the opportunity to spend some time with the boy and relax on the beach. I'm really looking forward to the next beach trip we have planned--this time to North Carolina! 

How did you spend your holiday weekend? 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Inspiration for my Sweet Clover Space

My first go-round selling furniture in the Sweet Clover barn was decent, but I'll be honest, I had no clue what I was doing.

Considering I'm in design school, this concerns me a little. I should be able to put together a cohesive space easily, right? I didn't mind how I arranged the space, but it had a bit of an identity crisis. Part of my challenge is that I don't assemble a master plan. I don't pick a color palette, I don't select a style. I pick what I love, and I let the piece decide what it wants to be. That's an OK strategy to a certain extent, but I need to rein things in a little. I love to mix styles, but there still needs to be something cohesive.

One thing that I'm finding incredibly challenging about selling my own vision is that I have to create something that is marketable while staying true to my design. Given that I am learning about different design styles and constantly picking furniture, I love to experiment with different styles, and I'm willing to take risks that a lot of people don't want to take in their own homes. I need to remember that my customers might not always want to take those risks. I also need to keep in mind the general aesthetic of Sweet Clover, while setting myself apart and maintaining my colorful, playful vibe. I've decided that I should use my own bedroom for inspiration since it's a total reflection of my personal style, and I think that it fits a little better with the Sweet Clover look than what I put together last month.

Here are some of the other images I'm using as inspiration.

Via Caitlin Wilson 
Ana Spiro Via Apartment Therapy
Emily Hart via Because It's Awesome

Emily Henderson via Design Love Fest

Charmean Neithart via Houzz
Todd Kelin via House Beautiful
What do you think? Would you buy something out of a booth inspired by these spaces?

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