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Wordy Wednesday: What is a Coffered Ceiling?

26 Jun
Coffered Ceiling in Bedroom: Redbud Custom Homes

Beautiful coffered ceiling in the bedroom: Project by Austin’s Redbud Custom Homes

There are many types of decorative ceiling treatments: coffered, tray, vaulted, beamed, and my personal favorite, popcorn-texture coated.  OK, not really.  My little cottage had popcorn texture on the ceiling when I bought it, and it was one of the absolute worst remodeling chores I did. I have very strong negative feelings towards whoever invented that stuff.

Fortunately, better ceiling treatments are in style now, and one of my favorites (really this time) is the coffered ceiling.  Basically it is a sunken panel on a ceiling, usually framed in fairly heavy beams. Right now it’s super-hot to do them in rustic or reclaimed wood, but they are often done in painted millwork in more traditional homes.

Originally, coffers were as structural as they were decorative, reducing the weight of a stone ceiling.  In fact, the earliest example of a coffered ceiling can be found from Roman times (thanks, Wikipedia). The style grew to become a symbol of craftsmanship and elegance over the years.  Unfortunately, in the last several decades we’ve largely ignored our ceilings in construction, to the point of even eschewing molding.

Adding some texture back in to a plain ceiling can be a very distinctive way to liven up your space (see some more ideas below). In addition to looking good, it can also help with noise, all those nooks and crannies can kind of sop up sounds.  Frankly, however, it seems kind of hard.  Anything involving the ceiling naturally requires a ladder and holding things over your head.  That said, I’ll probably try it in the house at some point; likely starting enthusiastically it in secret when Mr. Handsome is out of town.  Of course I won’t finish it and he’ll have to help when he gets back, he’s taller anyway. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Here are a few ideas we found on the interwebs if you think you might want to try it:

How to build a faux coffered ceiling

Traditional wood coffered ceiling

Ceiling panels – this looks easiest!

From This Old House – very detailed instructions

Some more examples in different styles:

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Red Chair Market connects buyers and sellers of quality, unique furniture in Austin, TX and the surrounding metro area.  Keep up with us as we expand to other Texas cities soon! 

Shop now for great finds on new, used, vintage and antique furniture. 

Pro-Tip Tuesday: Painting Crisp Stripes on a Wall

22 May
These subtle stripes add interest without overwhelming a small space.

These subtle stripes add interest without overwhelming a small space.

Adding a stripe (or several) to a wall is a great, inexpensive way to perk things up without spending a lot of money.  You can go subtle with tone-on-tone, or go bold with contrasting colors.  It’s pretty quick too, but getting those really crisp, clean lines can be hard, and blurry edges can kind of ruin the whole effect. I suppose you could get away with it in a dining room and try to convince your guests it was the wine, but better to get them straight to start with.  So what to do?

We got a tip from Mary Pullen from Redux Home Staging and Redesign who learned the hard way after trying it on her own living room.

Pro Tip:

Tape your lines with painter’s tape, then run a very small bead of caulk along the edge.  Smooth it completely, let dry, then paint with your brush or roller moving outward from the tape.  The caulk seals the tape down to the wall, and painting away from the tape prevents you from pushing the paint under it.

Voila! Crisp, clean lines.

Here are a few more ideas for striping it up.

See more Pro Tips; and be sure to connect with us so you don’t miss anything!

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Pro-Tip Tuesday: To Reupholster or Not to Reupholster?

6 Mar
Ambrose upholstery chrome vintage chairs

Totally worth it!

Considering whether or not to reupholster a piece of furniture can fill you with more angst than Hamlet.  It seems like a good idea (we’re all for restoring and reusing after all) but it it can sometimes be more expensive than just buying new, especially with a sofa.  Turns out all that fabric and stuffing can get expensive.  So we turned to Dennis Ambrose, of Ambrose Upholstery, who inspired this week’s Pro Tip.

Pro Tip

When deciding if a piece is worthy of reupholstering, consider a few things.

* Is the frame sturdy?  If there are some wobbles, be sure that a few minutes with a screwdriver can fix it and it’s not a structural problem (cracked or weakened wood).
* Is it classic?  Your new fabric will last 10 or 15 years, will you still want the piece then?
* How big is it?  Good fabric isn’t cheap, expect to pay $15-50 a yard and a typical sofa can require up to 20.
* But most importantly, do you love it?  If you do, it’s probably worth it, especially if it’s a sentimental piece.

If you’ve decided to make the commitment, take it to a good upholsterer like Ambrose Upholstery, or consider trying to do it yourself!  Austin Upholstery Studio and Spruce both offer classes on upholstery so you can turn your grandmother’s chair in to something you can pass on to your own kids.

See more Pro Tips here; and be sure to connect with us so you don’t miss anything!

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Home Office Makeover Part Two: What a Difference a Pro Makes

28 Feb
Home office makeover before

Not exactly what we had in mind.

As you know, we’ve been making over our home office to better serve as a command center for world domination.  In Part One of our chronicles, we shared the process of getting the built-in bookcases installed.  Once installed, we thought we were done, just slap those books up there and get back to work!  Well, it turns out that just slapping those books up there made our gorgeous new investment look pretty crappy.  So, once again, we turned to a professional.  Enter Mary Pullen of Redux Home Staging and Redesign, who whipped us in to shape.

You may recall that our little space has to serve a multitude of functions: the Red Chair Market command center (i.e. my office), Mr. Handsome’s office, the family bill-paying and filing station, the guest room and the music room.  It is also the first thing guests see when entering the house, so it has to look good.  That’s a lot of multitasking for 120 square feet, but Mary was undaunted.

In case you haven’t worked with redesigner before, they are generally focused on using what you have in new, creative ways. So the first thing we did was wander around the house to give Mary a sense of our style (or lack thereof) and scope out pieces we could use to spark up the room.  We then retired to the soon-to-be fabulous office to brainstorm a bit.

Her first suggestion was to consider covering the back of the bookcases with burlap.  Hmmm. But, I figured she’s the expert (and she’d done it before) so I agreed to give it a shot.  She thought the sofa area could be more inviting; I had kind of ignored it,  but once she suggested adding a pillow, lamp and small table I could see how neglectful I had been.  We both agreed that a more interesting light fixture was in order, the current one was a basic builder version. Finally, she suggested covering the functional-yet-ugly corkboard with some fun fabric.

Home office makeover burlap shelving

In progress.

So after our first meeting I was armed with a list of ideas and a few things to purchase.  My big score was the $5 chandelier from the Habitat Re-Store,  re-wired by my friends at D&W Lighting.  We reconvened a week later and went to work.  First we tackled the upholstering of the bookcases, which was actually pretty easy.  We just cut pieces about 4″ bigger than the area we were covering (we won’t mention that one little mishap) and folded the top over to make a nice straight line. Then starting at the top, we stapled it to the wood with a light-duty staplegun.  Once the top was in place, we could fold in the edges and staple down the sides, smoothing as we went along.  Burlap is pretty forgiving and even hides the staples, so it was a great way to try out the technique.  I’m totally amazed at how it changed the look of the room, somehow the jumble of books looked less jumbly already.

Next we went to work putting the books back up.  Mary “shopped” my house to find some doodads to break up the books and add some visual interest.  She asked me about my work habits (I fudged) and made sure that things I needed and used every day were accessible.  I think she would have liked to have culled a few books, but when I mentioned it to Mr. Handsome he got a little crabby.  Apparently he thinks bookshelves are for books.  So they all stayed.

Home office makover bookshelves

Nice mix of books and doodads.

Next we re-arranged the console area, using it to house the less attractive items like the printer.  I still had a million papers that I felt as though I needed immediate access to, so she suggested putting the baskets under the console for additional storage. Finally, we found a tiny, forgotten lamp handmade by my Aunt to add light to the sofa area, and added a fluffy pillow and side table.

As you can see, the transformation is amazing.  Most importantly, the Command Center is completely conducive to world domination; not only organized, but a beautiful place to while away the hours.

Home office makeover after

Ta Da! I look like quite the professional sitting here, even if I’m just surfing Reddit.

The “guest room” is also much more enjoyable and functional, both when the bed is open and when it’s not.  The pillow, lamp and table added to the spacealso make it a nice area for me to retire to when Mr. Handsome takes over the desk.

Home office makeover sofa area

Imagine sitting here reading Raymond Chandler with a glass of wine…

Home office makeover guest bed

Cat included, whether you like it or not.

While not ideal, we also have a space for the keyboard for when the kids want to work on their scholarship opportunities; they can use it on the desk and it slides under the sofa when not in use. (It’s not a very interesting picture, so I didn’t include it.)

And finally, we found one more use for the room.  It makes a perfect romantic little place for a dinner celebrating all our achievements.

Home office makeover dining room

Celebration time!

Here are a few other ideas from Mary (and one from me) that made the room a smashing success:

  • We painted all the storage baskets a dark brown (actually an “oiled bronze” which she calls magic paint) so they kind of disappear in to the background.  There are two baskets under the console, see if you can find them!
  • We installed a slide lock on the French door next to the sofa – when that door opens it significantly reduces the usable area of the room.
  • (This was my idea) I covered some foamcore boards with the leftover burlap and used them to cover up the open back of the console, hiding the cords (for some reason cords fill me with great angst).

So! We’re finally done, and it was all worthwhile, especially the help from our pro friends.  Below are a few of the Austin-area resources we used on the project.

Austin-area resources

B-Squared Woodworks

Redux Home Staging and Redesign

Bolt Fabrics – pillow and corkboard fabric (isn’t that faux-bois awesome?)

Capital City Upholstery Supply – cheapest burlap in town

D&W Lighting – rewiring several of my old and “found” fixtures

Habitat Re-Store – vintage chandelier

Pro-Tip Tuesday: Framing Vintage Fabric

25 Feb
Framed vintage fabric

Saved! From becoming yet another pillow, or worse, getting stuck in the closet.

For those fabriholics among us (and you know who you are), you may often wonder if you’ve hit the upper limit of pillows you can make for yourself .  Or you may have hit the wall already and have begun to make them for your friends, but not everyone has the taste to appreciate that toile depicting the Battle of the Bulge (where did you find that anyway?) If you’ve still got fantastic yardage left and have been banned from making pillows, we’ve got a solution for you.  This week’s Pro Tip is inspired by Jean Heath, proprietrix of Uptown Modern on Burnet Road.

Pro Tip

Turn your hoarded vintage fabric in to art by framing it.  The one above gracing Uptown Modern’s walls is stretched over a simple wooden frame available at hobby and craft stores. Grab a staple gun and start with one side, securing it in a nice, straight line.  Then gently stretch the fabric to the other side and staple, starting from the middle.  It may take a time or two to get the tension right so that you don’t have any sags or overly tight areas, but fortunately staples are easily removed.  You know, just in case the moratorium on pillows gets lifted.

See a few other ides below:

Framed vintage fabric

This solution uses up even more!

Framed, embroidered vintage fabric

This one was embellished with some embroidery to make it more dimensional.

Victorian frame vintage fabric

Great Victorian frame sets this fabric off.

Pro-Tip Tuesday: Make your Artwork Pop with Color Blocks

19 Feb

Did you know that the famous Vermeer painting The Girl with the Pearl Earring is only 18″x15″?  And that the average house size is almost 2500 square feet? That can be a lot of wall space to fill, and you certainly don’t want your TGWTPE drowning in a sea of plaster on your 10″ tall wall. Nor do most of us want to invest in the Guernica just to fill space (among other reasons, it’s not the happiest painting in the world). So we turned to Austin interior designer Robin Callan of Room Fu Interiors who inspired this week’s tip.

Pro Tip


Pop! This simple blue background makes the piece stand out and also fills up space.

To make a small piece of artwork fill up more space visually, paint a color block behind it to give it an extra frame.  This serves to both fill up the wall, and emphasize the artwork through the strategic use of color.  In this example Room Fu was asked to spice up a long, boring entry hall without investing in a lot of new items.  By painting a coordinating block behind the artwork, it reads as a much bigger piece and adds some much-needed interest to the hallway (see the original post here).  To pick a shade, try pulling a tertiary color out of the piece you’re highlighting to give it depth.  Fortunately, paint is cheap, so you can afford to make a mistake or two before you get it right.  Room Fu’s example here is bold, but you could also consider just a shade or two lighter or darker than the wall color for a more subtle accent.  The more ambitious could even consider trying to frame the block with molding, although you’d have to be careful not to get too busy.

Below are a few other examples from the world wide web; doing wonders for a plain mirror, a small clock and a tiny portrait (click on the images for the original posts). So dig out that tiny priceless (or not so priceless) piece from the attic, grab a paintbrush and go to town.

Color block behind art

The tiny clock takes up the whole wall now.

Color block behind mirror

Same great color as Room Fu’s example, perking up a plain mirror.

Home Office Makeover – Know When to Go Pro (Part One: Power Tools)

10 Jan
Before: Not conducive to world domination.

Before: Not conducive to world domination.

Since March, yours truly has been running the soon-to-be-world-d0minant Red Chair Market conglomerate (a division of Erichope Industries) out of her home office.  For those of you who work from home, you know that the joys of working until 3 in your PJs and taking calls while unloading the dishwasher are sometimes offset by the tsunami of stuff most of us have to cram in to our “work” space.  My office doubles as Mr. Handsome’s office, the family filing center, the room of banishment when the kids get loud, and the guest room.  I’m all for small-ish houses, but I would KILL for a real guest room.  And a basement.  My sister, Ms. Almost Perfect (but thankfully dorky enough you can’t hate her) has an enormous basement, and I came home from her house seething with more envy than I ever felt in our adolescence.

But back to the office.  My mother (Ms. McGuyver) visits two or three times a year, and I think this last time it finally was too much for her.  After tripping over a huge stack of papers in her “room” she offered to finance the built-ins we have been dreaming of.  My mother truly deserves her McGuyver moniker (remember the carpet story?), so I’m lucky she didn’t suggest that she and I “just” build them ourselves like she suggested that we “just” re-drywall the living room.  I am proud to say that I can hang drywall, but it’s kind of like saying I’m proud I survived a plane crash.  Not something I want to do again.

Cabinets in progress

Cabinets being built with real tools by grownups.

So I turned to a pro, David Benitez from B-Squared Woodworks, who had done some kitchen cabinets for us.  He is a true craftsman and did absolutely amazing work the first time.  Among my  many home-improvement misadventures I can count the attempt to put up crown molding with just a hand saw and a hammer (if you’ve ever tried this you know it was a disaster). David not only knows how to make everything fit together perfectly, but  he does it with grownup tools with electricity and everything.  And lasers, he has lasers.

Laser level

A laser level is better than “eyeballing” it, trust me.

While he was building them, we cleared out the old bookcase and cabinet and sold them on Red Chair Market (natch).  However we clearly did not do enough weeding out.

Where do we get all this junk?

Where do we get all this junk?

Mr. Handsome and I spent New Year’s Day filling them up with all our stuff, and we have somehow ruined them. Turns out we have a lot of crap, and most of it’s not very pretty.  Given all the functions this room has to serve, we can’t just put up a few leather-bound tomes and sit back with our brandy.

So we’re turning to a pro again, this time Mary from Redux Home Staging and Design, who is going to help us make sense of all this stuff. Stay tuned for Part Two!

A couple of tips for making built-ins office-efficient:

  • Make a list of all the things you’ll need to be storing so that you’ll have a place for everything (we had a file drawer built in). Do you need more or less covered space?  We considered having doors put on the right side shelves to hide the junk.
  • We happened to have several outlets along the wall we were covering, so David worked around them so they’re accessible through the lower drawers and cabinets. He cut the corners cut out of the shelves so you can run cords through them; this way we can have electronics on the shelves. I highly recommend you have outlets put in if you don’t have them, your carpenter can help you design them in the right spot.
  • Make sure at least some of the shelves are deep enough to accommodate bigger items, like a printer.  That’s why we had the lower cabinet section made at 18″ deep.
  • Make sure at least some of the shelves are adjustable so they can accommodate larger items like a TV.
  • Mix up the storage, we have a pull-out file drawer, a top-opening drawer and three small cabinets.

Update: See how it all turned out in Part Two!

11 Creative and Cheap Things to do with Spray Paint (Part One: Holiday Ideas)

12 Dec
White lights make everything better.

White lights make everything better.

After taking down the 47th box of Christmas decorations from the attic (OK…maybe 8th), Mr. Handsome forbade me to buy anything more this year.  Maybe we should start calling him Mr. Grinch.

Therefore, I am being a little more creative this season and have to my new best friend, spray paint.  Those of you who have been following the blog know that I’ve discovered the joys of spray paint after a creative problem-solving exercise with my stepson, Mr. Enthusiasm (see the story at the end of this post). It has blossomed to such a degree that Mr. Enthusiasm had the audacity to suggest I need an intervention.  You know it’s bad when a 10-year-old notices how much you like spray paint.

Anyway, I have been spraying things like crazy, so I thought I’d share a few of the recent projects in hopes of inspiring your own creativity.  For part one we’ll focus on Holiday ideas.

Make Artwork

Lorapetalum branch

Lorapetalum branch

Here is a fun way to create a memorable, personal gift.  I did these paintings with leaves from around my yard, but you could use almost anything you’re willing to spray (leaves, feathers, small toys, utensils).  It’s a great way to get the kids involved; they can make their own gifts for the grandparents and if you do it with some forethought it can also double as actual art (as opposed to those super-cute, but perhaps not gallery-worthy hand turkeys we all made). See more details in our previous post.

Spruce Up Old Decorations


Renewed and refreshed.

Mr. Handsome-Grinch wouldn’t let me buy anything new, so I spruced up an old garland with some spray-painted leaves.  The single ones are ligustrum leaves, which dry up nice and firm.  The bouquet-looking ones are pittosporum, and I’m not sure how they’re going to hold up, they seem to wilt faster.  Try different levels of coverage, I sprayed the ligustrum leaves pretty opaquely, but dusted the pittosporums lightly so the varigation can show through. See more detailed pics on Pinterest.

Change Your Color Scheme

Tired of last year’s color scheme of chartreuse and puce? (What were you thinking? Just because they rhyme doesn’t mean they go together.) It’s easy to freshen up those old ornaments with your trusty can of spray paint.  I decided I didn’t like teal this year, so I painted these a more forest green (not a huge difference in the photos here, sorry about that). They were a little dull after the first pass, so I added some gold.  Voila!

Totally different!

Totally different!

Napkin Nuance

Napkin 1

More leaves from the yard.

This was fun to do with the Divine Miss L for Thanksgiving – just spray some leaves, tuck them in your napkins and you’re done!  Swap out some gold or silver-dusted branches left over from the tree for Christmas. See the original post for more photos.

Add Holiday Flair to your Fixtures



This glass lamp is fine but a little boring.  I painted a few sticks and a leaf to give it some fall flair.  You could do something similar for any season.  I filled mine with some crackled glass balls to change things up (which I DID NOT paint – so there Mr. Enthusiasm).

Outdoor Ideas

This is the one that’s still a work in progress.  Remember the chicken-wire ghosts?  Well I decided to try to repurpose them in to trees.  I cut the wire in to a round-ish shape then pleated them in to tree-ish shapes and painted them green.  They look kind of cool by themselves, but they also sort of blend in to the background out in the yard.  I’ve tried a few versions of the lights and still don’t think they’re there.  I’d love some ideas!  Warning: I think chicken wire may become my next obsession.

Still meh, I know there's something there but not sure what.

Still meh, I know there’s something there but not sure what.

Tips for Working with your “Medium”:

Protect Yourself


Safety First!

Wear your mask, as Miss L demonstrates here.  This stuff is intense; I didn’t wear a mask during one marathon session and was pretty woozy afterward.  There’s a reason they keep this stuff locked up. This may make you think twice about using it around the kids, but if you use a decent mask it will keep you safe.  The environmentalist in me feels a little bad about the chemicals, but I figure I’m saving at least several pounds of unused decorations from the landfill, so hopefully that balances out.

Watch the Drift

If there is even a puff of a breeze, you will get a light coating of paint ALL OVER.  It’s so fine that it floats in the air about twice as far as you’d think.  My driveway is now faintly pink, although it appears to scrub clean with paint thinner. Use a very large tarp, even if you are just doing a tiny project.

Outside Only

Based on the two tips above this is probably obvious, but bears repeating now that it’s “cold” outside.  Spray paint projects are always best done outside.  It’s stinky and messy.

So, hit the hobby store or Lowes, grab some sparkly stuff and get spraying! Stay tuned for the next installment when we tackle some bigger projects.

Be sure to visit Red Chair Market to shop for new, used, vintage and antique furniture and home accessories!  We’re currently serving the Austin/Central Texas market but hope to expand soon.

Aubergine is the New Black (Or: Color Trends for 2013)

27 Nov

Aubergine sounds better than eggplant.

Apparently so is lavender and neon green, or so say the experts at Sherwin-Williams.

I had coffee today with a friend whom I met the way that many 40-somethings meet new friends – soccer.  I am totally not a soccer (step) mom, but we did make the kids do it for a few seasons and I met Noelle on the sidelines.  Anyway, Noelle owns the design firm True Interiors, and she recently went to a La-di-da luncheon put on by the paint people who shared the color trends for 2013.

Predicting color trends is fascinating to me, and at some point we may have to dive deeper in to the sociology of it.  But for today I thought I’d share the four palettes and Noelle’s and my insightful comments.

Midnight Mystery (or as we called it: Modern Gothic)

MIdnight Mystery

Explore your dark side.

Dark, moody colors, gothic-y Victorian aesthetic, industrial touches like exposed workings.  Think Robert Downey Junior’s Sherlock Holmes (swoon) or the recent Batman.  Apparently it’s also inspired by Steampunk, which I had to look up.

Vintage Moxie (Noelle says think “Austin Powers”)

Vintage Moxie

Retro fun.

Mid-century pastels like lavender, mint and aqua.  Much softer and more feminine than the Midnight Mystery palette, but not wimpy.  Some of you guys might have trouble with this one, but I think you could put Darkroom, Independent Gold and Radiant Lilac together and have a slammin’ bachelor pad.

High Voltage (or super-saturated neons)

High Voltage

Not for the faint of heart.

Bam!  No pansy colors here.  Well actually pansies are kind of bright really, but you know what I mean.  Electric Lime, Exuberant Pink, Calypso.  Noelle mentioned that she’d found this super-cool electroluminescent wire that she wanted to use in her son’s room to spell out his name.  It would be perfect for this color scheme. It is also great for “raves” according to the website.  You know you’re planning one.

Honed Vitality (this season’s “nature” palette; more sunset than forest)

Honed Vitality

Calm and relaxing.

I’m sure the Sherwin-Williams people would tell me I’m wrong, but this reminds me of the southwestern phase we went through in the ’80s  (when I say “we” I mean “some people”, of course I was quite young in the ’80’s). Sandy, rusty, warm colors with pops of sky blue.  Meant to be quiet and restful to help us calm down from our busy lives.

Apparently Green is Not the New Black

All pretty interesting, but here’s my problem; where’s the green?  Sure, each one has some nod to green, but it’s really just a very slight inclination of the head, the sort of acknowledgement you’d give to a blackjack dealer if you wanted more cards and you were terribly cool.  Green is my favorite color, and none of these do it for me.  Give me some emerald, sage, avocado or forest, please.  Even a teal would do.  It looks like I will have to stay behind the curve for one more year.

So tell us, what’s your favorite?

P.S. Here are a couple of fun projects from Noelle.  The headboard is made from old shutters salvaged for $16 at the Habitat Re-Store; the wall design is made from large upholstery tacks.  Brilliant!

True Interiors Examples

Great, inexpensive ideas.

P.S.S. Since this post is about color, I’d just like to say that we should all start spelling it the British way: colour.  It is so much better.  But I’ll look pretentious if I’m the only Yank doing it, so I need you all to help me out here.

Martha Must Practice a Lot

22 Oct

The inspiration.

As a kid I loved Halloween, as we all do.  It’s kind of a no-brainer for a kid.  But as an adult, and especially an adult Austinite, I’ve re-learned to appreciate the holiday.  To be totally honest, a lot of it is because it’s so freakin’ hot here until the end of September that the entire month of October seems like cause for celebration.  So I’ve held a pumpkin-carving party for years in my backyard.  But with the addition of the children in my life it’s become even more fun.

I’m not a big dresser-upper however (although I do have a classic where I dress all in black and run pieces of masking tape up from my legs to my neck; I’m a speed bump.  If you know me, you know it’s funny).  I’m more of a Martha Stewart or Camille Styles-type Halloweener; making themed food and crafts for parties.  That is, I would like to be.  Recent projects have reminded me that I have a way to go before I can include myself in the ranks of these august entertainers.

Our luminarias

Ours, not quite the same, but cute!

We posted a few weeks ago about this cool idea for Halloween luminarias.  These are so cute and seem so easy that I included them in our project repertoire for this year’s carving party.  Basically you take an empty jar, paint the inside with acrylic paint (that’s what we used anyway) and then draw a pumpkin or a ghost on the outside.  Drop a tealight in and, voila, a luminaria!  Well, as usual, they don’t look quite like the picture.  Of course I’m guessing that Amanda didn’t have most of hers made by 8 year-olds either.  I’ll let you wonder which one is mine…

Chicken wire ghost dresses

So cool!

I also tried this chicken-wire ghost project.  Yes, of course that sounds like it will turn out terrible.  But the inspiration looked so cool!  Take chicken wire and mold it in to a shape (they did dresses, dead brides I guess? I stuck with a traditional ghost) then spray it with glow-in-the-dark paint.  I imagined them dancing ethereally in the garden, elegant and spooky at the same time.  Not so much.  I had to put those garden stakes in there to keep them from blowing over, and the paint didn’t glow.

Chicken wire ghost


Sigh.  They’re both good ideas, so I may try them again next year.  I’m sure Martha and Camille have 50 rounds of lumpy-looking testers in a junk pile somewhere before they get to that oh-s0-simple-looking final result.  And I have to remind myself that the whole holiday is really about getting together with friends, covering yourself in pumpkin goo and celebrating fall.  Mission Accomplished.

Pumpkin-carving party

This is what it’s all about.