Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pale & Interesting, Road Trip-Picking

  We received a new book in the mail today. Pale and Interesting is the title. It is a book about decorating with whites, pastels and neutral. It had a lot of great picture of farmhouses with white wall and floors. We loved looking thru it together and had to recommend it in our blog. So check it out.

Saturday we decided to take a road trip. It was a beautiful day and I have been struggling with a pinched nerve in my shoulder so we decided to take it easy by doing something like taking a drive. The drive was a perfect opportunity to look for vintage farmhouses,  old trucks and other vintage/antique finds for our business.
We headed out along the lake shore of Lake Michigan south thru the city of Holland, Saugatuck, and Douglas. We made a stop in Holland at a local antique mall and than for lunch. After lunch we headed for one of our favorite primitive antique stores called Nob Hill at the south end of Holland. It is located in a wonderful vintage building. When we got there the business was closed for the season but there was also a for sale sign out in front of the store. This building would be any antique dealer's dream to set up a business in. So we had to take a few pictures to share with you.
 How could you not help but fall in love with this! After we stopped long enough to take a few pictures we got back on the road again and headed for the next antique mall we intended to visit in Saugatuck.
 Going thru Saugatuck we saw this great Chevy pickup in front of a garden center. Because of my weakness for vintage Chevy pickups we again stopped to take a picture of this wonderful truck being used to advertise this garden center.
 After Saugatuck and the Blue Star antique mall we headed out south of Douglas for awhile enjoying seeing lots of great vintage houses. The one the really captured our imagination though was this white farmhouse with plenty of porches. What a classic!
Me made one last stop for the day at a fun antique store that was located in an early 1900 wood frame store. After talking to the owner of the business I found out that he had an old barn fill with lots of vintage that he was more than happy to give me a tour of this coming week. So today I meet him at his vintage old barn and spent a couple of hours digging thru 30 years of collecting and found some treasures that should make it into our spaces in the next week. So our day "off" proved to be a very successful day for us.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Trends in Interior Design

My dear friend Sandi Garrison of Rhubarb Reign suggested late last summer that I consider blogging about my Interior Design business and that she thought it would be interesting to read about. I have to admit that it has been buzzing through my head for several months now. There are a couple of issues for me in writing about Interior Design. First I respect my clients privacy and will not mention names - you most likely will know who you are! Second it is never ethical for me to give away design advise when that is what people pay me for. So given all of that it took me a while to formulate how to do this in an interesting fashion. Here goes, hope you enjoy this.

One of the BIGGEST trends that I am using in Interior Design right now is Pinterest.
I first leaned of it from my Interior Design students that I teach at Kendall College of Art & Design Continuing Studies Youth and Adults program. I am now addicted! Pinterest is an online bulletin board where you can "pin" images of things you like under categories or "boards" that you create. I first started with pinning images of things that I like under a board that I titles "my style". That's easy anything I saw that I liked - right. Then I added one of "great ideas", things to make, recipes, on and on. My students use it to create "boards" for the projects that they are doing for class. We look at them on their ipads and iphones. It amazes me how useful those tiny pictures are! I now use Pinterest to create boards for my client projects, pinning fabric, furniture, lighting, room ideas etc. On Pinterest they can follow me and I can also follow them. It is so cool, they can almost see what I am thinking and vise verse.

The photo at the top of the page and the 3 above are from Sarah Richardson, of HGTV and Country Living fame. I love her style as do several of my clients. I think if I had to give you an overview or summery of her style it would be sophisticated, monochromatic comfortable - however the images that I have chosen of her work to share with you have more color - more my style. After all I'M writing this! And it is no secret to any of YOU that I love color! I think that her style of design is livable and has great character. So always fun to have a client who is inspired by here. 

I am working on a bedroom right now that was inspired by this bedroom that she did.
So stay tuned and possibly I will be able to share with you a photo of  "our" interpretation of the Sarah Richardson bedroom.
Yesterday to my astonishment Mary Emmerling started following me on Pinterest. I of course started following her back and picked up several other noteworthy people for follow!
It truly has been so much fun and such a great way to stay current on trends in design, color, fashion, you name it. Amazing for me to see what everyone pins!

I saw this great scarf on Pinterest and pinned it to my board, clicked on it and learned that it was a pattern that I could purchase in a PDF version. I did!

So then I pinned this item from my Etsy site that I had for sale, to one of my boards titled "Vintage" and  sold it in one day.
So can you see why I am addicted!!!!

If you would like to follow me go to Pinterest search for me CJ Pluister Zondervan.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Our Vintage Very Snow Neighborhood-Heritage Hill

          CJ and I have the privilege of living in a very beautiful neighborhood here in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The neighborhood is call Heritage Hill Historic District. It is one of the largest and oldest historic districts in North America. CJ has lived in the neighborhood when she came to town to go to Kendall College in the 1980's. I have lived here off and on for years and  built a construction business that specialized in restoring houses in this neighborhood for a number of years.
 We now live here together and often love going for walks at the end of the day. We both love old houses.
 This week our unusually warm weather ended and about a day ago we started getting a soft gentle snow fall and much colder temperatures. After two days of snow we have a regular winter wonderland.
 So late this afternoon we went for a walk when I got home from a day of working in my shop. Everything was so beautiful, quiet and snow covered that I couldn't resist taking some of these pictures of house we passed as we walked.
 All of these houses pictured are when in two blocks of our house. It is a wonderful thing to be surrounded with some much beauty.
 We hope you enjoy these few pictures of our very vintage snowy neighborhood.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Chalk Paint, Furniture Painting/Refinishing, and the Reorganizing of the Work Shop

The dust is still settling from my major work shop reorganization. I am now working in a space about half the size as my old space. It may take me awhile to get everything just right but the space is feeling very comfortable. This new move is already producing some good results. I am feeling that the smaller space will force me to be more selective about future projects, it is also forcing me to process my projects quicker rather than leave them standing around to long periods of time, I find that I tend to lose tools less frequently because my tools are less spread out across the shop, and it is also making me look at how I finish or refinish our furniture projects.
For some time now I have been spraying furniture that we refinish or paint. In this new smaller space this has become more difficult. I have had an interest for some time in both milk paint and the new chalk paint that seems to be growing in popularity. So I have taken this work shop change as an opportunity to look at how I am finishing furniture and play around with some of the finishes I have wanted to try, and go back to doing more furniture by hand rather that spraying my finish. In my smaller space going with product that don't fill the air with paint has become important for my health.
The new Annie Sloan chalk paint has really intrigued me so I paid a visit to a dealer and purchased a can of French Linen, a can of the dark wax that top coats the product and a color chart. The paint is a wonderful soft matte finish, is a primer and paint in one and is water based. I painted a small primitive buffet I had in the shop and found that it meet all my expectations. Easy to use and easy to clean up, it covered in one coat and after I sanded it out I applied the wax. I brought the piece of furniture in to Bluedoor and found that it sold so fast that I didn't even get a chance to get a picture of it. So I went back to the chalk paint chart to look at some of the other colors to see what else I could try. After years of painting furniture in cottage white, black and a variety of greens and blues I found myself loving some of the colors on the chart like Country grey, Paris grey, Old ochre, French linen, Versailles, and even Emperor red. Some of these similar colors are also showing up on the Pottery Barn winter paint color palette.
                                                 As much as I loved the chalk paint I found that there were some draw backs for me in using this paint. First was the cost, second was that there are no dealers here in Grand Rapids were I live and third you can only purchase it in the colors available on the shelf or chart. So I decided to pay a visit to my local Benjamin Moore paint dealer and found that they have a new paint product called Regal Select available in a flat or matte finish which basically claims to be very similar to chalk paint. So I had a gallon mixed up in black, my white and the color called country grey(actually very close to a pottery barn color). The cost of the product was much less and when I painted the above two pieces of furniture I was very pleased with the result. Once the paint had dried I lightly sanded the furniture to give it the right amount of distressing.
The next part of the process was to wax or find a process that would duplicate the wax process. Now, I do love the wax however we have found that over the years wax can sometimes make it difficult to change colors and can sometime attract dirt. So I purchased some water based glaze from the paint store, tinted it with very dark brown paint, applied it to the painted piece and then wiped it off with a wet rag. The results were very close to the results I got with wax.
 The two above pieces of furniture were the result of my second round of experiments. I finished off all of the above piece with a matte clear water based product to give them a final clear coat.
I also tried the above two chairs in the pottery barn red which is very close to Annie Sloan red. Again, I like the result and I also like the new palette that I was developing for my furniture. 
I have also done a bit of furniture refinishing and have decided to add a few more pieces like the interesting old pine church bench pictured below.

  I love how the finish plays with some of the new colors I have been experimenting with. So you will most likely see more of my new color palette along with some more natural finished pieces, as well as some of our old standby colors like black and white. The one thing I want to try next is layering different colors as is suggested on the back of the Chalk paint chart.

We have also always tried to collect great architectural items as a part of our love. So about a week ago a came across the two fabulous items pictured below.
The items pictured are sections of vintage cast iron handrail that came out of the old city hall here in Grand Rapids that was torn down in the 1960's. Aren't they great!

All the items pictured above are currently at Bluedoor. So come down and see our ever changing collection of vintage finds.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The New Year and Resolutions

 We hope that all of you had really great holidays and are now quietly at home putting away Christmas like we are. New Years always seems to bring with it resolutions and so we have asked ourselves what should are resolutions be.  If you are in business for yourself you are always asking yourself how you can do to do your business better, what are the trends you should be following, and what areas should we focus on. As a result, one of the things we hope to do in the new few weeks is to ramp up our ebay and etsy listings.
Are esty account in called True North and are ebay account is called Hattiemaevandaff(named for our cat). We have had both accounts for awhile and feel that it is far more productive for us this winter to focus on listings to help us increase our sales over the winter when our sales slow some. So if you have some time check us out on both locations and see what great finds and creations we come up with over the next few weeks.

This past year I have also made a resolution to reduce the size of my work shop. I have had my space for about 15 years and at various times I had a crew of people using the shop when I owned a construction company so I needed alot of room for the construction of projects and for large pieces of machinery. However, much of the machinery is now gone and so is my crew. So, over the past few years I have filled my shop up with lots of vintage stuff that I intended to fix, repupose, or upcycle. I have manage to collect much more than I could possible work on or use and so I decided to reduce the size of my shop and attempted to organize my shop so that we can save some rent money as well has making my workspace a more efficient space for me to work.
This is not any easy task for me because I love my "stuff" and I would not have hauled to to my shop if I had not seen some value in it. But, by New Years day I had vacated half of my shop and am now working on putting some assemblance of order to all the remaining stuff. About now I am sick of cleaning, sorting, and throwing stuff out of my shop window and am ready to get involved in some new projects including some projects I found while going thru this very large change.
So keep an eye on us this year. We are talking about lots of ideas and potential changes and are very excited about our business possibilities this year.