Friday, February 27, 2015

Rustic Mantels Popular For Spring

Rustic Mantels have been gaining more and more popularity lately.  There's even a style I've come across recently called "farmhouse modern" where it's chic to mix elements of modern and rustic decor.  If you're thinking of adding a little rustic to your home, consider a new mantel.

Rustic generally means something that looks old, organic, or unfinished.  Basically it's the opposite of new and sleek.  Sometimes rustic items really are old such as mantels made from reclaimed barn wood.  But mantels can be new and made to look distressed and worn.  Pine and other types of solid wood make good rustic mantels.  Some companies offer a choice of stains and finishes so you can match the mantel to your home.  Be sure to measure your existing mantel, if you have one, so you can determine what size rustic mantel to purchase.  Use painter's tape to mark the space your new mantel will cover.  Plan to leave about a foot between the top of the firebox where you build the fire, and the bottom of the mantel.  A good rule of thumb for figuring out what length the mantel should be, double the firebox width.   Your city might have building codes so it would probably a good idea to check on those before installing your new mantel.

Pictured here is the Ridgewood Rustic Mantel available at  Check it out and let me know what you think!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Decorate A Mantel For Fall

Fall is finally here!  The air is getting a little chilly here in Atlanta and it's time to start thinking about making a few changes around the house.  Creating a colorful mantel display is a great place to begin! I mixed a few artificial and real pumpkins with some Indian corn and added a leaf garland to line the mantel.  Then I hung a simple grape vine wreath in the center with some burlap.  A pair black lanterns add the perfect touch on each end holding cream colored candles.  The light colored brick painted with Brick-Anew makes a nice neutral background for the colors to pop.  What are your fall mantel decorating ideas?

Check out these beautiful rustic mantels and more picture testimonials for the Brick Anew Paint Kit.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Painting A Mantel Black...And 5 Other Ways To Use This Dramatic Color In Your Home

Designers love black, whether it’s in clothing or home decor.  This classic color never seems to go out of style and is a staple of any wardrobe.  In home decorating, this bold color can be used in a number of ways to draw attention to details and accessories or add dramatic flair to walls to pieces of furniture.  Here are some ways to use black in your home:

-Paint a wall black and hang brightly colored prints, sculptures, or paintings.  Or paint a wall a light color and hang artwork in black frames for a uniform look.

-Decorate with black wrought iron such as a light fixture, railing for a staircase, or candlestick holders. Black wrought iron furniture looks beautiful on a screened porch or patio and it’s fun to accessorize with bright, cheerful colors.

-Paint your fireplace mantel black.  Whether you have a mantel shelf or a surround, a dramatic look can be created. This looks best if your fireplace is build out of a light colored material like marble or if your brick has been painted a light color.

--Paint end tables or a chair black.  Just a couple of black accents in a room should be enough to make a statement.  Remember, you can paint almost anything from an old brass lamp to a worn looking fireplace screen and get great results.

-Combine black with white for a classic look.  Black, white, and chrome make a timeless combination for a kitchen or bath.  Add a pop of color or just leave it alone.  Either way, it will make a statement.

-Fill a black cabinet with white dishes for a simple, sophisticated display.  

(Photo by Selamat Designs)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Crisp, Cool Summer Fireplace

Picture From The Pink Pagoda

Fall might be just around the corner but summer’s not over yet!  Ahhhhh, summer...  sunny days and laid back, effortless style.  As we savor the last summer days of the year, take a look at this fireplace from the pool house at Blue Ridge Farm in Albemarle County, Virginia.  (Yes, I said “pool house”!)  The crisp blue and white color palette,  natural fiber rug, and clean white walls all work together to give this room a fresh, natural feel.  When you think of summer style, think rattan, wicker, bamboo, and weathered wood.  These elements can be used throughout the year and even if you don’t have a pool house or live near the beach, you can use these elements to give your home an airy feel.  I like how this fireplace is painted.   Shades of white and cream  give the surround and the mantel a fresh look.  A simple plant in a ceramic pot placed in the firebox with matching urns on either side of the hearth adds to the fireplace’s classic charm.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Cozy Place To Relax By The Fire

I love this picture from La Dolce Vida.  This fireplace looks amazing with a sleek marble surround and a rustic mantel!  The dark paint color around the fireplace allows the light colored marble to pop and draws the eye to the firebox.  The rustic mantel (perhaps reclaimed wood) adds interest and warmth to the design.  Did you notice the stacked wood in the storage space on the left side of the picture?  The minimal accessories on the mantel and the coffee table add to the room’s simple elegance.  A few soft, plush pillows and a furry throw give the space a cozy feel.  Sleek, plush, and cozy...a great place to relax by the fire!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Inspired by a Fun Renovation in LA

The Fireplace Before/ After

I was on the treadmill at the YMCA this morning flipping the channels on the TV when I stumbled upon the HGTV episode my Los Angeles friends,  Carmen and Johnny,  filmed on "House Hunters Renovation" several months ago.  The episode is called "A Wrecked Rec Room gets a Hip Makeover".  If you have never seen the show, it follows them as they look at three houses and choose one to buy and renovate.  They end up choosing a 1950's ranch with a detached garage.  The main project involved converting the garage into a rec room.  They added some rustic beams, some bright sky blue paint, and  a pool/ping pong table.  My favorite was the red theater seating and the funky artwork Johnny designed.  I was there at the time helping paint the fireplace and installing a rustic mantel and fireplace glass doors. The dark brick on the fireplace looked so much better after using a brick paint kit to lighten the brick.  The paint changed the brick color to a taupe/tan/cream combination while keeping the real brick look.  The rustic mantel matched the new hardwood floors they had installed and the finishing touch was cabinet style fireplace glass doors with a steel frame in oil-rubbed bronze.  The fireplace went from  tired and outdated to fresh and modern.  It was great to watch the episode and see the fun they're having with their new rec room and enjoyment they're getting from their new house.  That's what it's all about...right?  Making your home a great place to relax, spend time with family, and entertain friends.  After watching the show and  seeing their before/after projects I was inspired to go home and do one myself. Now I'm sitting here thinking hmmmmm... which one do I start??

Carmen and John

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

We All Know Donny Osmond Can Sing and Dance...But What He's Doing Now Might Surprise You

Debbie & Donny Osmond

I pulled my car into the parking deck at America's Mart in Atlanta last week to take a look at the new line of home products Donny Osmond and his wife have recently launched called "Donny Osmond Home". A little apprehensive, I squeezed into the crowded elevator and headed to the 14th floor.  Looking around a few seconds, I spotted a sign for a "meet and greet" line where you could have a picture made with the couple so I went to the back of the line and casually chatted with the people standing around me while I waited for my turn.  When I got to the front and caught a glimpse of Donny, my heart did skip a beat... I'm not gonna lie. I thought OMG!! It's Donny Osmond!  Immediately, my mind went back to the early 1970's when I was ten years old living in a tiny ranch house on a suburban neighborhood street filled with kids on bikes, where we spent our summers playing kick ball, splashing around in our above ground pool, or playing pretend (Do kids even do that anymore??). My best friends lived next door and pictures of  The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, Bobby Sherman, and of course, Donny Osmond covered our bedroom walls.  When I met Donny, happy memories of my childhood came flooding back as I remembered sitting on my bedroom floor for hours playing with Barbie dolls and listening to my portable record played as Donny crooned "And they called it Puppy Love..."

After I'd had my fun reminiscing and snapped back to reality, I wandered into the showroom, anxious to check out the merchandise.  The space was filled with an eclectic mix of products including furniture, home improvement items and accessories.  I was pleasantly surprised at the quality and modern style of the collection.  "Making Home and Family #1" is their brand message and everything points to creating a warm, homey space for quality family time.  They describe their own home style as " a blend of textured neutrals with color accents depicting a casual and comfortable lifestyle."   From floor and table fans, to bedding, shelves, rugs, lamps, and rustic mantels, the collection is varied , unique, and definitely worth a look.  I especially love the furniture with clean lines and a distressed look and the rustic mantels made from reclaimed wood.  Donny commented in an interview that they are not trying to create their's organic.    Family and home really are the most important things to them.  With five children and five grandchildren, they're the real deal and are super nice people.  I can't help but root for them and wish them success.  This is just the beginning of their new venture and I'm looking forward to seeing how they pull it all together.  (Or maybe that's just the ten year old in me who still has a little crush...Donny's sooooooo cute!!!!!)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Built in Fireplace Seating

Photo by Southern Living

I love this unique  idea!  Built in seating on both sides of the fireplace makes a cozy space
in a den.  Usually it's built in bookshelves we see but extra seating is always a plus.  
These Atlanta homeowners wanted a space for their daughters to hang out.  The
seats are the width of twin beds so it's a great place to read because of all the natural light 
from the windows.  The bright red in the abstract art adds a pop of color.  I like how they put 
a fern in the empty firebox to fill the space.  

Monday, August 5, 2013

Video Didn't Kill the Fireplace Star

Even on a Flatscreen, Video Fireplaces Don't Compare

They've got to be kidding . . .

That was my first thought when a friend forwarded me this story from NPR about the new fireplace video, Living Fireplace: Volume 2. As a longtime fireplace enthusiast I know all about the fireplace video genre -- people have been filming hearth fires and selling them to the less fortunate since the arrival of Betamax, way back in 1975 -- but I've never known the celluloid crackler to get much in the way of respect, never mind critical attention. In fact, I always assumed half the sales of these babies could be tracked back to people in the fireplace industry, who like to give the videos and DVDs to each other as holiday gag gifts.

Of course, upon reading the NPR piece I realized, yes, they are kidding. The review of Living Fireplace: Volume 2 is meant as a joke, and a pretty doggone funny one at that. Here's my favorite paragraph:

The film begins -- languidly, serenely -- with an extreme close-up of a popping and crackling fire. Almost Lynchian in its dreamlike ambiance, the scene slowly unfolds. Blue flames lick the underside of the foreground birch log. Smoke swirls in soft focus at the edges of the flue. It's a devastating mise en scene, evoking the aching nostalgia of hearth and home, but with malevolent, stygian menace.

Kind of makes me want to buy one of these as a stocking stuffer for my hipster nephew, who's spending Christmas with us this year during his college break. He recently told me he how much he looks forward to his visits because I always have a good fire going, so I think he'd get a kick out of unwrapping a video imitation Christmas morning in front of the real deal. And just to make sure he doesn't feel cheated, maybe I could also put a some new fireplace tools from Brick-Anew under the tree. Eventually, the boy's going to have a real fireplace of his own, and there's no reason not to encourage him.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Dinner By The Fire #4 - Cajun "Fire" Chicken Salad

Photo by Dinner with the Shivers

I found and tried this amazing recipe from: Dinner with the Shivers

1 lb boneless chicken breast
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 hearts romaine lettuce
1/3 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp parsley (dried)
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp onion
1 Tbsp garlic
1Tbsp pepper
1 Tbsp salt

Cut chicken into tenderloins (or you can buy it pre-cut if your grocer carries it). In a small bowl, combine chili powder, cayenne, parsley, nutmeg, onion, garlic, pepper, and salt. Stir to mix, and sprinkle over chicken. Heat oil in a saute pan on medium high. Cook chicken 8-10 minutes until cooked through and crisped. Set aside to cool.

Roughly chop the romaine. Top with shaved Parmesan. Slice the chicken on the diagonal. Lay chicken on the salad. Add any other toppings you prefer, and serve. Simple but good. Enjoy!


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