Decorating your Garden Spaces for Spring

by Kelly DuByne on April 23, 2014

Submitted by Marlie Bilbruck-Boerger

There are signs of spring cropping up everywhere!  From the song birds flitting about in the rhododendrons to the blue bells and crocuses that are peeking out from the piles of leaves, it is futile to argue that it isn’t ‘that time of year’ again.  You know the time of year I’m talking about.  The time of year when we look out our dusty smudged rainy Northwest windows and breathe a huge sigh as we recognize that our long-forgotten gardens need lots of help.  The time of year when we turn our focus from the inside of our homes to our outside living spaces and the piles of leaves and weeds that surround them.  The time of year when we start to be driven crazy by the pops of bright yellow dotting our lawns because we know they are the preludes of the next generation of dandelions that will be taunting us with their proverbial tongues sticking out.

Once I get past this shock of conscience and recognition of what kind of work it’s going to take to clean it all up and prep it for a weed free spring/summer, I find a spark of enthusiasm that inevitably ‘springs’ forth; The spark that stems from the ‘possibilities’.  The idea of what my gardens could be this year and the excitement that comes from how I can make them beautiful and charming not only through  wonderful flowers and foliage, but also through the shocks of colorful adornment I add that is not organic.

I love adding whimsical pieces in bold color alongside the vegetation.   One such piece I have is an antique plant stand my husband’s grandmother willed me.  It is heavy cast iron and almost impossible to lift, but I LOVE it!  I love the personal story of where it came from, its form, its function and now its color.  When I received it it was dirty white with a few rust spots.  After a little elbow grease and some spray paint it now sports a lovely bright turquoise paint that looks fabulous in my garden.  I love the way the piece is unexpected and presents a gift of discovery to those walking down my garden path.

A friend of mine has a blue tinted glass marine float hanging from her tree in her yard.  It was a piece her daughter had received and really loved, but eventually no longer had space for.  So she asked me if I would like to have it (I really did like it).  I suggested she keep it and use it as garden décor.  She did and it looks quite whimsical.

A few things to think about when placing an item in your garden:

–You want to make sure that it will hold up to the elements—especially here in the Northwest where we have so much precipitation and cool weather.

– You want to make sure it is something that is of a color that stands out around the surrounding elements of the space you’re putting it in (or you can paint it a color that will).

–You may also consider using it in such a way that it becomes a functional piece in the garden.  For example the plant stand I have in my garden gets an array of bright pots planted with beautiful trailing purple flowers during the warmer months.

–Also consider if the piece needs to be stored inside during the cool winter months.  Items made of terracotta, china, and porcelain can crack or outright break if the weather dips below freezing;  Metal pieces can rust in damp environments.

Have fun and happy spring!



Elegant Change On A Dime

by Kelly DuByne on March 25, 2014

Submitted by Marlie Bilbruck-Boerger

As I mentioned earlier this year one of my resolutions is to take care of the items haunting me from my ‘don’t-ignore-us-any-longer-to-do-list’.  I am happy to announce that I have checked off yet another one of these long-thought-of-but-never-acted-on projects.

Ever since the day we moved in (eight short years ago) I have taken exception with our fireplace mantel.  It was built and created by a previous owner and, although not poorly constructed, very blandly completed.  It was a ‘floating mantel’—that’s a mantel that appears to be held in place by magic with no visible brackets, corbels or pillars keeping it up.  It was constructed of natural stained wood and pretty nondescript.  I had nothing horrible to say about it, nor anything good.  It did nothing for the living room area other than hold the Christmas decorations and the occasional houseplant.

I knew for a while that I wanted to ‘ground’ it by adding some architectural detail that would make it appear more permanent, solid and heftier (for lack of a better word).  I spent the last couple of years off and on researching corbels trying to decide on a style and material I wanted them in.  I admit I wasn’t serious about completing this project as there was always something else to work on that seemed more pressing and required fewer decisions to be made.

All of this procrastination came to an abrupt end with one trip to Hobby Lobby (have you been to this place? It is amazing!).  While walking through the store, my jaw agape at all of the home décor items they offer, I happened upon one aisle sporting a 90% off rack—that’s right!  That was not a typo.  It was a 90% off rack!  Well of course I felt compelled to just see what they had on it.  Yes, there was any number of items I would never give away to someone else for free, let alone pay any amount of money for myself.  But after a few minutes of riffling through the less desirable items I happened upon a set of gold-leafed finial bookends for just $4.  My first thought was, “Maybe I can paint these and use them somewhere around the house.”  My second thought was, “Maybe I can use these upside down as corbels on my fireplace.” Aha!!!!  That was exactly it.  It all fell together in my mind: paint out the mantel to match the rest of the trim in the house, prime and paint the corbels to match, put them together and…VOLIA!!! Instant architectural interest without a lot of cost!!!  I had done it!  I had found my inspiration.  Nothing was going to stop me now.

So off I swooped with my new found motivation and a few short (well,  five days in total) days later I had a mantel that had gone from boring to amazing!!!  It now has great presence in the room; offers some interest to the fireplace; and brightens the whole space.

Here’s how I did it:

1.)    Prime the mantel with a good stain blocking primer (Kilz® is what I used).  This prevents any stain from being reconstituted and rising to the surface of the paint and in return ruining your finish.

2.)    Spray prime the finials (I used Kilz® Original Interior Oil-Based Spray Primer).  Making sure you use light even coats to avoid any drips.

3.)    Use a soft natural bristle brush to paint two coats of paint (I used an interior enamel in a semi-gloss finish) on the mantel and the finials.

4.)    Adhere the finials using a strong construction adhesive (or, what I used, Liquid Nails®.)

5.)    Touchup any paint that needs to be touched up.

6.)    Enjoy!!!

I encourage you to take everyday items and look at them differently.  Turn them every which way and think about them beyond what they are marketed as.  Just because it’s a bookend doesn’t mean it can’t be something else instead.  Think outside the label and a whole new world will be opened to you.



Inspiration Found

March 4, 2014

Submitted by Marlie Bilbruck-Boerger “I just don’t have a clue where to begin.” “You’re so good at decorating.  I don’t know where you find your inspiration.”  “I just don’t have the (decorating) gene.” I hear it all the time from friends, family, acquaintances, delivery people, etc.  People who just can’t see the decorator in themselves […]

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Find Help Fostering Your Innate Style

February 3, 2014

Submitted by Marlie Bilbruck-Boerger My six-year-old asked me the other day if she may look through one of my design books (specifically a book dedicated to bedroom design).   I said, “Of course.  Help yourself.”   I was mainly just excited and a little impressed that she asked to look at a book as opposed to watching […]

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Treat Your Windows Right

January 6, 2014

Submitted by Marlie Bilbruck-Boerger Here it is January 2014 and along with my usual New Year resolutions –eat better, exercise more, lay off the sweets, etc.  I made a few extras including one to complete my unfinished project list. One such project began way back in June when I removed my dark brown Espresso colored […]

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Embrace the Odd Space

December 16, 2013

Submitted by Marlie Bilbruck-Boerger Many homes, older and newer, have strange niches that hold no clear purpose and are quite ambiguous in design.  I have one such space above the entry to my kitchen.  It measures approximately 5’x 1 ½’x 1 ¼’ and is nothing more than an empty box (I mirrored the back of […]

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Updating Vintage Furniture By Changing Dated Hardware: A cautionary tale

December 4, 2013

Submitted by Marlie Bilbruck-Boerger Recently this 1970’s vintage dresser came to live in our home.  It was passed on by my in-laws who are downsizing and needing to rethink their furnishings.  I fell in love with this piece and saw great potential and a variety of uses for it (it has tons of storage for […]

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Saying “Hello” with Color

November 18, 2013

Submitted by Marlie Bilbruck-Boerger Welcome!  Please come in!  We are so glad you are here!  These are a few of the many salutations an entryway should convey. One easy and fun way to make your foyer express this is with paint.   What a person sees when they first come into a home sets a mental […]

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Enjoying Nature While Remaining Warm

November 4, 2013

Submitted by Marlie Bilbruck-Boerger The fresh nip in the air in the mornings reminds us daily now that winter is coming and coming fast.  We will no longer be able to run around outside, enjoying nature and drinking in its beauty (well we can, but it will be cold).  As a result I suggest we […]

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Contrast is the Key

October 21, 2013

Submitted by Marlie Bilbruck-Boerger For most, décor is not accomplished by a trip to a designer showroom where a matching set of living room furniture is purchased, along with the display mirror and coordinating area rug.  Instead homes are decorated using a mix of old and new, metal and wood, soft and hard—in short good […]

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