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A Minimalist Christmas | The Tree Alternative

With the world of things like Pinterest at our fingertips, it’s no surprise that people are jumping at the alternative of easier and smaller Christmas Tree solutions. When I was 18, I had rushed my boyfriend (now husband) to a big box store to buy a fake tree on sale. It had lasted several years which is great, I love decorating trees, but in a few of the places I had lived over the past few years, it was not ideal to have even the smaller scale tree I had. I didn’t even know there were other options!

It’s hard for people to justify investing in a tree that they only have out for a month in a year, and still be able to store it (and storage is valuable real estate in the apartment world!). Along with the tree, the decorations, lights etc., also need to be stored somewhere, so now it’s impeding even more.

For those who love the traditional tree-feel, I’ve seen many people go for the 2-3’ trees (in various colours: white, purple lights, black with red lights, traditional green with white or multi-coloured lights), which can be placed on tables (read: away from mischievous pets, and small fingers). I know my hubby and I lived in this very cramped basement apartment for 2 years where my (what I thought was small) 6’ tree took up most of our hall space! It was very invasive! A 3’ tree would have been far more practical, but still offer my love for decorating trees.

I have some friends who have kindly provided/shared with me some of the things they’ve done to overcome their tree space challenges.

1: The DIY Tree

My friend Morgan says: “Each of the top smaller pieces are on their own and the longer bottom lengths are cut in half so they’re each 2 pieces.” She followed up to mention her boards are comprised of cardboard, cork, batting and then felt. As of right now they’re tied together and hung with a string in the back, however she’s looking at finding a better hanging solution. She puts a little shout-out on Facebook to her friends, who collectively (over the years) make her decorations for her tree. It’s a great solution for conserving her space, while also creating a personal touch to her space.

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2: Au Natural

I really love this look; my friend Jessie was inspired from something she saw on Pinterest. She actually had her dog find the sticks, “I used a pocket knife to debark and make them the right length. I used walnuts to polish them.” Which is a great personal touch. She adds lights and a few simple colour themed decorations to it to help keep it simple, but still stunning.

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3: Simple Tinsel

This was a fun and very simple artistic way of giving that look of a tree, just up on the wall! My friend Meagan here used tinsel by itself. Please be careful with tinsel if you have pets, it can be very harmful if swallowed. That said, it’s a fun way to create texture in a very simple way! There are many ways to put a creative spin to this, or if you do not like tinsel, you could use other variants of garland, or purely just lights etc. The options are endless!

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These of course are just a few of the very many choices out there in the world. Feel inspired and have fun!

Wishing everyone a very happy holidays from Nested Green.

Chalk Paint | Re-finished Dresser

A client had found this mid-century modern dresser through an online buy and sell website, at a great price. The dresser offered a great look and fit her space perfectly. Though the original owner had attempted to refinish the dresser themselves, there were some distinguished characteristics that did not make it quite as desirable as she had hoped.

Though the condition of the dresser was perfectly fine, and functionally it works well. You can see in the before photo above that the top is very high gloss, of which also included many drip marks from the varathane – we collectively felt that it took away from the vintage look this dresser was intended. We also wanted to modernize the dresser in a fun way. After contemplating a back-painted glass top, we decided ultimately to do through a more economic, and custom route.

Katherine and I love chalk paint, and we have done a few projects via this route. Our client also loved this idea, so we took on yet another project!

We had to start by really sanding down the original surface (and I mean really sanding it down!). We had decided to paint just the box, leaving the drawer fronts (which were still in its original condition) and legs. Chalk paint doesn’t require you to sand, but you do get a better result when you do.

Having extremely curious supervisors (my cats) lurking around the project made it a little difficult to work, but we managed. Gandalf loves our dropcloth… hopefully it stays that way!

It required about 3 coats, I think we did 4 on the top. We did a 1/3 mix of pure white and an off white, creating a really soft and warm white. We then did 2 layers of clear wax on the side panels, and 3 layers on the top. We loved the way it turned out because it balanced out their side tables perfectly!

Above is to show the side table, notice how we’ve created an inverted version of it. After delivering the dresser back, there were some last touches needed, including a good buffing from the wax finish.

Final photos! What a difference! : ) It stands out, creating a modern touch on a reclaimed piece.

Silk Road To Happiness… never too cool for silk

 

The incredible heat and humidity lately has me thanking my lucky stars for the silk wrap skirt that was given to me many years ago.  I’m reminded of my mother in law when in her mid 50’s claimed that she needed to wear silk clothes to feel comfortable. The wonderful natural qualities of silk out-do cotton every time.  Humidity is not a friend of cotton… Wet T-shirt contest anyone!?silkworm+on+leaves

I was intrigued by the way silk feels and acts.  I read somewhere that when used as a pillow case, the amino acids in the silk can have a anti-aging effect on your face.  Uh, can I just swaddle myself in the stuff!!??

Even with all the potential of body temperature regulating and skin smoothing, there’s a sad fact about silk. The common production method of silk fibers is a cruel one.  Simplified: when the silk worms are still alive in their cocoon, they are dropped in boiling water to release the fibers of the cocoon.  The threads are then carefully pulled and wound onto spools for the next step in production.  The worms, now dead never get the chance to become the beautiful butterfly they were meant to be.

silk-ballsThere is an alternative to the killing fields of commercial silk production but you will really have to look for it. Ahimsa Peace Silk, produced in Fair Trade communities in India, this silk is ethical.  The mulberry larva are allowed to finish their growth into flying beauties and continue the reproduction cycle.  Their abandoned cocoon are collected, inspected for vacancy then painstakingly unraveled by caring, patient hands.

Sadly, wild eri silkworms are becoming endangered, possibly due to the same fate as honeybees.  The commercial use of silk worms too is unsustainable.  A couple only produce 50 eggs, so management is precarious if greed kicks in.IMG_20150724_164321

Research about silk also turned up that toxic chemicals and heavy metals like lead are used in the colouring of silks.  So, not only is ethical silk more desirable for fair treatment of living beings but also healthier if natural dye processes are used on the fabric.  But that’s a whole other post.

Excuse me while I attend to my bowl of ice in front of the fan.  I think there’s a hint of fresh air coming through the window.  In the meantime, feet up, silk wrap on, fan on full blast.  I’m dreaming of Ahimsa Peace Silk sheets and a cool night sleep.  Stay frosty my friends.

 

In Pursuit of Happiness… Our Natural Desire to Feather Our Nest

Every spring our North American bird friends spend endless hours finding the perfect fixings for thier new digs. Searching for the best ingredients for solid structure, waterproofing and of course comfort, readies thier new home for thier expected little ones. Well that explains birds, but why do we feel the need to make our homes look like the cover of Architectural Digest?
Is it just that magazines and television expose us to the best spaces that money can buy? Do you take those visions as a challenge or do younfeel deeper about the rooms in your home? Do you feel the need to keep up with the Joneses whether you can afford it or not? There are as many reasons for the “nesting” feeling as there are … well… people. Decorating means different things to different people and to each his own… beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
For the lady late in her pregnancy, her “nesting” instict kicks in with the impending birth of her child. So is our desire to nest a hormonal reaction or natural instinct? Young couples that move into thier first home are so compelled to spend every last cent they have… or more… to make thier new nest the home of thier dreams.
Perhaps your pursuit of a fabulously sexy pad is motivated by your desire to hook-up. Both ladies and gents of single status who are looking for love, very much take the feathering of thier nest seriously. Making one’s self attractive to others at all levels. This activity is not like a web of deception but displays one’s desire to attract someone of quality or at least show your financial ability to keep up with Joneses.
Does your home make a statement about who you are or who you want people to perceive you to be? Do you want to experience a certain feeling as you walk through your front door? Is it that feeling many of us get as the holiday seasons set upon us, certain scents, colours and objects take us back to a warm happy place… most of the time. Make note of how you feel the next time you walk through your home’s entrance. Is it stress or relief that you feel? Can you recognize what it is about your home that ingnites emotions in you? Being able to notice any negative reactions you or your family may have when you enter your abode will direct you to what your next weekend DIY project should be. If you can’t put your finger on the source of your pain, you may need to call for professional help such as an interior designer.
What is your house pride motivation? Some folks feel that cleanliness is most important but let the clutter slide. Others pride themselves with orderliness, but the dust-bunnies are still safe to reproduce under the bed if time runs out in the housekeepers schedule. Then there is the personality of one who conquers both clutter and cleansing; demanding it from others in the home too. Is your desired space an empty box with little embellishment or do you prefer a full house of furniture, decorative objects and things of memories past? Where do you fall into this scale?
Do you let your budget or line of credit guide you in how much you spend on your nest? Or do make due with hand-me-downs and gifts? One may think that feathering your nest may take a great deal of cash. It can be done on less than a dime but it may take just a little more time and a fair amount of elbow grease to achieve. Consignment shops that specialize in household furnishings and accessories are a great source for finding unique and affordable things to fill your home.
There is a statement in design that says “form follows function”… meaning our spaces should be shaped by our activities but usually we have to stuff ourselves into a container we can afford and make the best of it. Depending on where you are in your life, your home may be a 5 bedroom single in the suburbs or a 24th floor bachelor loft in a re-developed downtown neighbourhood. You may feel that finishing your space to suit as many future buyers as possible is a good investment. Perhaps that is true in a short turn-around property, but in a long term living situation furnishing and decorating (as well as renovating) it is best to make choices that will make you happy. Of course, there are others such as family, future family or pets to considered in any nesting decisions you make.
Nesting is more than the pursuit of material possession, creating a living space that functions well and that you enjoy can add to the overall quality of your life. Happy Nesting!!

More reading:
Want to hook-up: http://ca.askmen.com/top_10/dating/top-10-ways-to-impress-a-woman-with-your-home.html
Keeping up with the Joneses and other rules: http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2013/06/6-decorating-rules-to-live-by/