H. Camille Smith

"Trends come and go but good design is timeless."

Camille is a managing editor for HGTV.com, fine artist and antique furniture devotee. As a former interior designer and Nickelodeon animator, she has a real passion for balanced, beautiful interiors with a touch of whimsy and punch of color. Camille shares a mid-century cottage with two exceptionally pampered pooches and rooms filled with vintage finds.

H. Camille Smith ON PINTEREST

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POSTS BY H. Camille Smith

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Halloween may still be months away but that doesn’t mean I can’t tempt you with a few of the devilishly delicious treats we’re cooking up now. Our entertaining pros are busy whipping up both sweet and savory party snacks your Halloween guests won’t be able to resist!

Here’s a small sampling; I’ll share the actual recipes when we get closer to All Hallows Eve. In the meantime, check out our Halloween feature for more spooky inspiration: HGTV.com's Halloween Party Recipes

MORE HALLOWEEN IDEAS:
Halloween Sneak Peek: Outdoor Decorating Ideas
Halloween Sneak Peek: Kids’ Costumes
4 Halloween Crafts to Make Now
Halloween Cut-Outs: Spook Up Your Yard
Crafty Indoor Halloween Decorations
Free! Halloween Printables
Home Survival Skills: Prepare Your Home for Halloween
How to Make a Fall Felt Leaf Wreath

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Halloween may officially be more than 3 months away but here at the HGTV offices (or in my cube, at least) the countdown to All Hallows Eve has begun. Our talented designers have been hard at work coming up with fresh ideas for all things Halloween — from party food and games to kids’ costumes, pumpkins and, of course, spooktacular indoor and outdoor decorations.

I know that Halloween die-hards like to get a head start on outdoor decorations, in particular, so I thought I’d share a sneak peek of a few of the projects we’re currently working on. No links yet, but be on the lookout for our new Halloween feature in early September:  Outdoor Halloween Decorating Ideas

MORE HALLOWEEN IDEAS:
Halloween Sneak Peek: Kids’ Costumes
4 Halloween Crafts to Make Now
Halloween Cut-Outs: Spook Up Your Yard
Crafty Indoor Halloween Decorations
Free! Halloween Printables
Home Survival Skills: Prepare Your Home for Halloween
How to Make a Fall Felt Leaf Wreath

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Once we’d tackled the painting and major carpentry projects (here and here) at my sister’s beach cottage, it was time to start decorating – my favorite part! As is true in any home, it’s the accessories that bring a look together and give your rooms personality — and — it will come as a shock to no one who’s read my Adventures in Antiquing posts that my favorite place to shop for accessories is at estate sales, flea markets and garage sales. Not only are the prices (WAY!) cheaper but I find the coolest stuff plus bits and pieces that I can upcycle into something new. And when you’re starting from scratch to fill a 3 bed/2 bath beach house — inexpensive and cool are your best friends.

Exhibit A: This sculptural, vintage whiskey decanter. Made as a promotional item in 1972 by Jim Beam to commemorate Key West’s 150th anniversary, the decanter’s colorful, kitschy subject and hand-painted details lured me over while the $10 price tag sealed the deal and earned it pride of place on the corner of the beach house’s bar. The fish on top actually lifts off to reveal the bottle’s opening. The decanter is empty but the rich smell of 40-year-old bourbon remains.  Beach House Bar Area

How cute is this little alarm clock?! Not very practical, but then who wants to be woken up when you’re on vacation anyway? My sister picked up this little cutie at an estate sale for just $4. Paired with a few shells we found (for free!) and a $2 ginger jar lamp that I covered in rope, this table has the coastal cottage look down pat.  Beach Cottage Bedside Table

I am absolutely in love with this ship’s model — my first and best Craigslist find (just $5!!). The ship’s prow was a bit battered (the previous owner’s son liked to “sail” the ship into the wall) and a few bits were missing but luckily the seller had kept them so my dad was able to make it ship-shape again. Surrounding the ship are zoological fish illustrations I printed (for free!) from this site then just popped into dark-stained frames.  Beach House Living Room With Ship Model, Candles and Shells

And when I can’t find exactly what I want – I make it. Yard/estate sales are a great place to buy candles. Sometimes they’re in pristine condition, sometimes, not so much. For candles that are dented, scratched or just plain ugly — cover them up. Learn more about this under $10 project and get my instructions here.Beach House Twine-Wrapped Candles

It’s taken 3 years of DIYing over family vacations but the beach house is slowly coming together. What do you think of our improvements?

MORE BEACH HOUSE MAKEOVERS:
Budget Beach Cottage: Bedside Table Before and After
Budget Beach Cottage: Make a Nautical Rope Mirror
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Built-In Bookcase
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Kitchen
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Living Room
Adventures in Antiquing: Easy Beachy Candle Update

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Even as the rest of the country is gearing up for July 4th celebrations, we’re hard at work on original recipes, crafts and decorating ideas for the fall and winter holidays. To be honest, we’re pretty much always working on holiday content around here but early summer is when the pace really picks up.

I don’t want to give away too many surprises but thought you’d like a sample of the (many!) Halloween treats we have in store. From mommy-and-me costumes (seriously, how cute is the milk and cookie!) to budget-friendly costumes you can make out of felt and a hoodie (like a rampaging dinosaur) to professional-quality Halloween makeup tricks — we’ve got you covered.

Here’s a sneak peek of the costume-y goodness headed your way and be on the lookout for our new Halloween feature in early September! HGTV Halloween Costume Sneak Peek

MORE HALLOWEEN IDEAS:
4 Halloween Crafts to Make Now
Halloween Cut-Outs: Spook Up Your Yard
Crafty Indoor Halloween Decorations
Free! Halloween Printables
Home Survival Skills: Prepare Your Home for Halloween
How to Make a Fall Felt Leaf Wreath

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If you’re a pet parent, like me, you know that you can never have enough storage. Leashes, food, treats, grooming supplies and most importantly — toys — take up a lot of space. My older pup, Madeline, long ago lost interest in stuffed animals but my 3-year-old Schnoodle, Sophie, believes a girl can never have too much stuff.

Initially, I spent big money in pet stores on adorable, interactive toys she would toss up in the air a few times then happily destroy. After several months of this, I stumbled across a big box of 25-cent stuffed animals at a yard sale and haven’t paid retail since. After a thorough cleaning in the washer (hot water with a few drops of bleach) and extended tumble in the dryer, Sophie’s second-hand victims (um…toys) are good as new.

To store her stash, I bought a large wicker trunk, painted it black, added a bronze crest I found (where else) at an estate sale, slid it under a table in the living room and used it to keep Sophie’s toys within easy reach. For years the trunk worked fine but this spring my ability to find bargain toys exceeded Sophie’s ability to destroy them. Luckily, I already had a thrifted basket on-hand that, with a little makeover, would be perfect for containing the overflow: 
Dog-Toy-Storage-Basket-Makeover-Before

The basket was too tall to slide under the side table so removing the handle was the first step and I wanted to give it an antique look (I envisioned an old fishing creel) so it would better blend in. Here’s how I did it:
Dog-Toy-Storage-Basket-Makeover-Step-by-StepSteps: 1-cut ties holding handle in place  2-remove handle  3-thoroughly coat basket with spray stain (I used 2 coats) 4-choose an embellishment, I decided to repurpose an old belt  5-cut off excess leather at the top and bottom  6-attach belt to top of basket using super glue then clamp in place  7-flip basket over and glue a thin piece of wood to the bottom (I just snapped the end off a wood shim)  8-secure belt to wood with thumbtacks or nailhead trim  9-add felt pads to the basket’s bottom to protect your floor

And, voila, my once-plain basket now looks like it belongs in a house filled with antiques:
Dog-Toy-Storage-Basket-Makeover-Before-and-After

Best of all: the easy-to-access toy basket gets the Sophie Seal of Approval. Buh-bye little buffalo, looks like the bell has tolled for thee:
Sophie With a New Stuffed Dog Toy

MORE ADVENTURES IN ANTIQUING:
Adventures in Antiquing: Clinch River Spring Antiques Fair
Adventures in Antiquing: Charleston Antiques Show Part 1
Adventures in Antiquing: Charleston Antiques Show Part 2
Adventures in Antiquing: (Easy!) Beachy Candle Makeover
Adventures in Antiquing: Repurposed Wooden Tray
Adventures in Antiquing: Crushing On Carrara Marble
Adventures in Antiquing: Old Toolbox Turned Magazine Caddy
Adventures in Antiquing: Old Clock Repurposed as a Frame
Adventures in Antiquing: Classical Busts
Adventures in Antiquing: Vintage Avon Bottle
Adventures in Antiquing: Salvaged Molding As Holiday Decor

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When it comes to making over a beach house on the cheap, my family doesn’t just get our hands dirty knocking down kitchen walls and turning a tiny closet into a beachy bookcase, we’re also all-in when it comes to filling the beach house with one-of-a-kind furnishings.

My 18-year-old nephew scored this solid cherry bedside table for a song at an estate sale last fall. It was quite literally falling apart so he used his charisma and law-school-bound negotiating skills to get the seller to throw it in (for free!) with the rest of our haul. After my dad replaced missing bits and stabilized it, this once shabby little nightstand was ready for a chic makeover:
Beachy Rustic Nightstand Before and After

My sister and I decided to paint it black but re-stain the top to match an antique chest-on-chest on the bedroom’s opposite wall. Even though the finish was pretty scuffed up, more sanding was necessary to provide “tooth” for the paint while an orbital sander made short work of completely stripping the top so it could be stained. Because I planned to distress the paint to highlight details and allow the cherry wood to show thru, one coat of black paint was all I needed:
Sanding and Painting Rustic Nightstand

Once the paint had fully dried, I used sand paper to give the table a time-worn, distressed look. The key to distressing is to concentrate sanding on areas that would have naturally seen the most wear, like any raised details, corners and along edges. Next, I brushed the top with an oil-based stain, then used a cotton rag to wipe the same stain over the remainder of the nightstand. The stain soaked into the distressed areas to create a more realistic time-worn look.
Sanding and Staining Rustic Nightstand

For less than $20 in materials, this little table (that was once destined for the trash) provides handy bedside storage and adds just the right cottage touch to the master bedroom. Finished Cottage-Style Nightstand*Three years later, the beach house is still a work in progress; keep checking back for more thrifty transformations.

MORE BEACH HOUSE MAKEOVERS:
Budget Beach Cottage: Make a Nautical Rope Mirror
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Built-In Bookcase
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Kitchen
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Living Room
Adventures in Antiquing: Easy Beachy Candle Update

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Father’s Day is this Sunday — are you armed with a gift for dad? No? Well then, we’ve got you covered — from his favorite recipes (hot beer cheese and homemade pretzels — yum!) to fun, free printables and handmade gift ideas like this easier-than-it-looks dresser-top leather valet; whip up a surprise for your dad just in time for Father’s Day celebrations.

Handmade Men's Leather Valet for Father's DayReady to make your own? Get the complete step-by-step instructions>>

Not only is this monogrammed leather valet easy to craft, you probably have most of the materials on hand like an old frame, some batting or foam and a spare bit of leather – this is a great project for upcycling a past-its-prime jacket or purse. The steps are simple, just disassemble the frame then use the backing as a template to cut out a small piece of leather and batting. Place the leather, suede side up, on top of the batting and secure it in the frame with strong tape.Step by Step images for making a leather dresser-top valet for Father's Day

I used an old trick from college printmaking classes to create removable registration marks on painter’s tape that would help me find the tray’s center before placing the adhesive stencils (these things are awesome, btw, you can find them with the glass-etching supplies at your local craft store). Fill in the stencils with a permanent marker and voila — a handy catch-all for dad to keep his keys, change, watch and anything else he needs to grab on his way out the door.Using a Sharpie to Monogram Leather

Crafting this handy DIY gift for dad is easy — but be sure to check out my complete step-by-step instructions for a materials list and lots of helpful tips first>>

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When I say “budget beach cottage,” I ain’t just whistlin’ Dixie. Upcycling is far from the latest trend in my family — if we can find a way to repurpose or reuse something, we will.  Check out our beachy kitchen, living room, candles and built-in bookcase transformations to see what I mean.

Enter a plain-Jane, oak-framed mirror my sister and I bought at an estate sale intending it to serve as a vanity mirror for the hall bath. The rounded shape of the frame reminded us of a ship’s port hole and at just $5, the price was right. Sadly, the wood-framed mirror was too small for the bathroom — but it was just the right size for a narrow wall in the master bedroom. We hung it but the stained oak frame just wasn’t doing it for us. Luckily, my 18-year-old nephew found an old boat cleat at a yard sale for just 50 cents (clearly he’s been well instructed in the ways of the bargain-hunting force) and that was the inspiration we needed to wrap the frame in rope and “tie it off” to the cleat.

And … voila! Here’s our once plain-Jane mirror after its nautical makeover: Beachy Rope MirrorReady to make your own? Get the complete step-by-step instructions>>

Covering the frame is easy; the key is to start on the inside of the frame and really secure the first few rows with a super-strong epoxy (like Gorilla Glue) to prevent the remaining rows from shifting. Once you have a solid start, you can switch over to just tacking the rope with brads every few inches.
Beachy Rope Mirror Step-by-Step

And … inevitably when you’re taking photos in a small beach house with 5 nosy little dogs around (2 are mine and 3 are my sister’s) you end up with quite a few shots featuring a cute pup in the pic. Everyone, meet my sister’s furry little shadow, her 6-lb rescued Yorkie, Gracie:Cute Yorkie Dog and Beachy Rope Mirror

Giving a blah mirror a coastal makeover is easy — but be sure to check out my complete step-by-step instructions for a materials list and lots of helpful tips first>>

*Three years later, the beach house is still a work in progress, keep checking back for more thrifty transformations.

MORE BEACH HOUSE MAKEOVERS:
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Built-In Bookcase
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Kitchen
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Living Room
Adventures in Antiquing: Easy Beachy Candle Update

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If you’ve read my antique posts then you know that I’m a big fan of finding new uses for old things – but I also believe in reworking a room’s architecture to better suit the way you live.

My sister’s beach house had a tiny closet filled with shelves in the main living room. How tiny you ask? So tiny that getting anything larger than a puzzle box into and out of it was a challenge. Initially, we had plenty of projects to keep us busy but once we had the kitchen and most of the painting covered, it was time to get creative!

Typically, “getting creative” in my family involves my Daddy’s excellent woodworking skills, a hastily sketched plan and lots of paint — and this time was no different. We decided to turn the mini closet into a built-in bookcase that would provide both decorative and hidden storage and fit in with our beach bungalow’s cottage charm. A weekend worth of work, @ $125 in materials and several trips to the hardware store later … voila, we’re all pretty proud of the finished project:   Beach House Built-In Before and After PhotosFirst, I should note that a closet is typically wider than its door – go ahead, peek inside a closet and you’ll see what I mean. In addition to the door’s framing, there’s usually a small amount of wall surrounding the framing. So even though the door was only 18 inches wide, the boxed-in recess of the closet was actually 24 inches wide.

We wanted to create as large of a built-in as possible so we first removed the door, molding and paneling above the closet then my dad used a jigsaw to cut away the few inches of paneling on either side of the door opening to fully open up the space. Next, we headed to the hardware store to find a stock kitchen cabinet to fit our opening and lumber to use as shelves and as a top for the base cabinet. You can see in the second image that the cabinet is just a little deeper than the opening but it doesn’t stick out so far that it’s obvious. Once everything had been primed, caulked and painted, it looked like a built-in that had always been part of the house’s architecture:Beach House Built-In Step-by-Step Photos

After the paint had dried, my sister and I set to work filling the shelves with our budget beachy finds. The cabinet’s drawer holds all our pups’ harnesses and leashes while the bottom door conceals a stack of rainy-day puzzles and games:Beach House Built-In After Photos*Three years later, the beach house is still a work in progress, keep checking back for more thrifty transformations.

MORE BEACH HOUSE MAKEOVERS:
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Kitchen
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Living Room
Adventures in Antiquing: Easy Beachy Candle Update

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Three years ago, my sister bought a rundown fishing cottage on the NC coast. While any beach house is certainly better than no beach house (I’m not complaining!), this particular cottage was in pretty bad shape. Check out more before-and-after photos here to see what I mean.

Before: Dark, mismatched and cramped, the kitchen was a mish-mash of colors and materials. The yellow cabinets were constructed with the house in the ’70s while the previous owners added a few white pre-fab cabinets (front left) in the ’80s for extra storage. In addition to being just plain ugly, the sheet vinyl flooring had definitely seen better days and was cracked and peeling up.  Dark, dated and dingy beach house before makeover

The yellow kitchen cabinets put up quite a fight, it took no less than 2 coats of primer and 4 (yes, 4!!) coats of white semigloss to make them over. Other than A LOT of paint, shelf liner and caulk, the cabinets stayed the same. If you look again at the before photo, you’ll notice we had a board cut at the hardware store to fill in a pointless empty space above the sink. For less than $10 for the brackets and board, we added a cute shelf that gives the cabinets the cottage look we wanted.

After: We briefly considered laying tile in the kitchen but decided to continue the wood flooring from the adjacent living room for better flow. Isn’t it amazing what a few gallons of paint (and A LOT of elbow grease) can do?!Paint works wonders to brighten up this beach house kitchen

Before: The fridge was tucked into an L-shaped wall that concealed it from the dining room on one side and the living room on the other. This also meant that the kitchen felt really cramped and wasn’t fully open to either room.Paint works wonders to brighten up this beach house kitchen

After: Moving the fridge and water line to the opposite wall allowed us to entirely remove the wall between the kitchen and dining room and turn the wall separating the kitchen and living room into a small bar area. Bonus: Moving the water line meant my brother could plumb in the dishwasher so we no longer need to roll it over to the sink to run a load of dirty dishes (which was a serious pain in the butt).
Paint works wonders to brighten up this beach house kitchen

After: Here’s another view showing how open the kitchen is now to the dining and living rooms after we removed the partial walls. The column conceals a necessary steel support so it stayed, my dad boxed it in with leftover paneling and trim to make it a design feature. A thrifted brass bell (just $3) lets everyone know when it’s dinnertime.
Removing walls opens up this sunny beach house kitchen

*Three years later, the beach house is still a work in progress, keep checking back for more thrifty transformations.

MORE BEACH HOUSE MAKEOVERS:
Adventures in Antiquing: Easy Beachy Candle Update
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Living Room

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This time of year is my favorite for so many reasons: warm weather, spring flowers, longer days…but the thing I love most is spending sunny weekends outdoors hitting the local antique fairs. Thanks to the favorable weather, most fairs take place in the spring and fall — check this list to discover one near you.

The closest antique fair to HGTV’s Knoxville HQ is less than 20 minutes away in the Mayberry-esque hamlet of Clinton, TN. Each year in early May and October, this sleepy Southern town draws antique and collectible dealers from throughout the Southeast for their Clinch River Antiques Fair. Best of all, mixed in with the professional vendors are lots of locals who’ve cleaned out Grandma’s attic, barn or basement — so, although the prices and quality of antiques vary dramatically from booth to booth, there’s so much to choose from that I never leave empty handed.

Here are a few of the goodies I spied:

A coat of bright green paint and a liberal sanding give this 60-year-old dresser a kicky update — $150: Distressed Green Dresser

Mixed in with the antiques were a few crafts. How clever are these?! Old Reader’s Digest books cut into initials — such a great idea for a kids’ room or nursery – $15 .   Books Cut Into Initials

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Mother’s Day is sneaking up fast (it’s this Sunday!) but you still have time to craft a handmade gift — especially one as simple as this sweet little jewelry box. Best of all, the materials for this project cost less than $20 and you’ll be ready to surprise her with your thoughtfulness in no time flat!

Make a Handmade Gift or Jewelry Box for Mother's Day

Get the step-by-step instructions>>

All you need is paint or stain, a decorative knob and a pair of fence post caps (1 flat and 1 raised). Yep, just plain old fence post caps. You can find them in the fencing department of your local hardware store and they look like this:  Wooden Fence Post Caps

Thanks to the flat cap’s stepped design, it fits nicely inside the raised cap to create a lid – like so:
Easy Jewelry Box Made From a Pair of Wooden Fence Post Caps

Finish your jewelry box with the paint or stain color of your choice, add a knob and surprise Mom with a charming personalized box filled with a small trinket or sweet surprise. Stain Fence Post Caps and Add a Knob to Create a Wooden Gift Box

Ready to get crafting? Get the step-by-step instructions>>

MORE MOTHER’S DAY CRAFTS TO TRY:
Block-Print Napkins With Simple DIY Stamps
Make a Simple, Floral Mother’s Day Centerpiece
Hand-Painted Wooden Bracelets for Mother’s Day
Make a Fingerprint Table Runner for Mother’s Day
Make an Easy-to-Sew Lined Tote Bag

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If you saw Kayla’s bathroom trends post then you know that we recently spent a few days in the Big Easy for the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show checking out the hottest new products before they hit shelves. Trendspotting at a trade show is always fun but unlike other shows we attend where design is the only focus, kitchens and baths are spaces where form and function are equally important so technology is key. If you’re in the market for a new kitchen, or just thinking about a few upgrades, here are the freshest trends/technologies to make your kitchen really cook!  

Wondering what color to paint your cabinets? I polled a few manufacturers and while white cabinets continue to be tops, gray is the shade they’re betting on to break white’s top spot. This kitchen by Wellborn pairs soft gray cabinets with richly stained wood — combining cabinet colors is another kitchen trend that’s holding strong:
Wellborn Cabinets Kitchen in Soft Gray

Not only is the color of kitchen cabinets changing, but hardware manufacturers like Blum are changing the way cabinet doors and drawers function. These hydraulic, easy-close doors fold up and out of the way with the touch of a button: Blum Hydraulic Kitchen Cabinets

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After recently spending a few (blissful!) days in Charleston’s historic peninsula touring private homes and gardens, I can attest that gardening is a full-contact sport in the Holy City. From manicured formal gardens to rambling flower-lined paths, Charlestonians definitely know how to rock their green thumbs.

In addition to full gardens, flower-filled windowboxes were everywhere: Window boxes in Charleston

Formal gardens boast mounds of color and charming weather-worn statuary: Charleston formal garden

Charleston’s sub-tropical climate provides ideal conditions for South Carolina’s state tree, the Palmetto Palm, and camellias whose ruffly flowers are synonymous with the South: Pink camellias and a palm tree in Charleston

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If you’ve been following my earlier posts (here and here), you know that I’m one lucky online editor who recently took a trip down to gorgeous Charleston, S.C. to attend their annual antiques show and tour a few of the peninsula’s centuries-old private homes. With over 2,800 historic buildings, Charleston is one America’s oldest and best-preserved cities. Founded in 1670 as an English colony named Charles Towne, the city’s peninsula features homes that range from pre-Revolutionary War and Antebellum to Gothic Revival, Italianate and Victorian that were added in the post-Civil War Reconstruction era. Although these architectural styles differ, one common thread of all Charleston’s historic homes is the strong desire to preserve the buildings that make this city so unique. 

I saw so many beautiful interior and exterior details during my tour but here are 5 of my favorites:

Wood Paneling:  Interior walls covered in raised wood panels are a common feature in Charleston’s historic homes. In the years before plaster (and centuries before sheetrock), wood was a functional and decorative wall covering that helped to insulate interior rooms from cold seeping through the home’s stone or brick exterior. In this cozy living room, the home’s current owner meticulously stripped layer-after-layer of paint to restore the almost 300-year-old cypress panels to their original warm finish.Paneled parlor in Charleston historic home

A “Hyphen”: Due to the very real possibility of fire, Charleston’s kitchens were housed separately from the main house. Thanks to advances in cooking in the early 1900′s (food could be prepared in a stove instead of over an open fire) many Charlestonians began to connect the detached kitchen to the main house with a room called a ”hyphen.” These connecting rooms provided additional living space and made cooking less of a chore. Many hyphens, like this one, still feature the old brick exterior wall and pathway that led to the former kitchen.Fireplace and brick floor in historic home in Charleston

Haint Blue Paint: Another common feature of the city’s historic homes is blue paint on the ceilings of piazzas (Charleston’s term for covered side porches). Commonly called “haint blue,” this soft turquoise shade is thought to keep ghosts or malicious spirits from entering the home. Here’s the iconic shade on the Calhoun Mansion, the city’s largest private residence:Piazza ceilings painted blue in Charleston

Hinged Shutters: Although we use shutters on the exteriors of our modern homes solely for decoration, Charleston’s early inhabitants put them to work. Paneled shutters were hinged so they could securely close to protect pricey glass windows from hurricanes.  Windowboxes in Charleston

Lush Gardens: Charleston’s subtropical climate means short, mild winters, hot, humid summers and plenty of year-round rainfall resulting in an ideal gardening environment. Peek through any gate in the historic district and you’ll be rewarded with the view of a stately home surrounded by either a formal or informal garden. Although the plot surrounding each home isn’t large, Charlestonians take pride in filling their yards with masses of blooming plants. Plantation house in Charleston

*Check back next Wednesday to see highlights of the gorgeous gardens I toured in Charleston. 

MORE ADVENTURES IN ANTIQUING:
Adventures in Antiquing: Charleston Antiques Show Part 1
Adventures in Antiquing: Charleston Antiques Show Part 2
Adventures in Antiquing: (Easy!) Beachy Candle Makeover
Adventures in Antiquing: Repurposed Wooden Tray
Adventures in Antiquing: Crushing On Carrara Marble
Adventures in Antiquing: Old Toolbox Turned Magazine Caddy
Adventures in Antiquing: Old Clock Repurposed as a Frame
Adventures in Antiquing: Classical Busts
Adventures in Antiquing: Vintage Avon Bottle
Adventures in Antiquing: Salvaged Molding As Holiday Decor

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So, have I mentioned lately that I love my job? No? Well, I do! I recently spent a few (blissful!) days in Charleston, SC touring historic homes and checking out their prestigious annual antiques show. I shared a few of my favorite antique finds last week; here are a few more goodies:

I’m obsessed with gilding — shiny gold objects draw me to them like a magnet. Gilding is the process of covering a surface, typically porcelain, wood or metal, with a thin layer of gold. Also known as gilt, gold-leaf and ormolu (from the French or moulu, literally ground gold) this technique is centuries old – early examples decorated the homes of Greek, Chinese and Egytian elite. Left: The mirror in the foreground is one of a pair of George the Third, English Regency mirrors from the early 1800′s  – $17,500. G. Sergeant Antiques To demonstrate the (top notch!) quality of antiques offered for sale at this show, the mirror in the background is the mate to one on display at NY’s Metropolitan Museum of Art — wow! Right: The massive horse’s head is a French trade sign from 1870. The gilding was applied over cast lead and is in amazing condition considering this piece would have been displayed outside a business and spent decades exposed to the elements – $4,500. Cunha St. John Antiques
Antique gold mirror and horse's head at Charleston Antiques Show

Storage that’s both practical and beautiful is not a new idea. Left: What looks like a really tall hat box is actually a cheese keeper. Refrigeration is a technology we take for granted but 100+ years ago, this beautifully embellished pottery dome prevented cheese from drying out while keeping it cool and mold-free, circa  1875 — $9,500 Jerry S. Hayes MajolicaRight: For centuries tea was a luxury that only European, and later Amercan, elite could afford. To protect their stash from rodents or light-fingered servants, small locked boxes were used. Soon, the boxes that held the precious tea became a status symbol in themselves employing exotic and rare materials like ivory and tortoiseshell. English tea caddy, circa 1830 — $5,300 Sallea Antiques
Antique majolica and tortoiseshell tea caddy at Charleston Antiques Show

My two pups are the center of my world and judging from the high number of antiques I spied featuring man’s best friend, dogs have long been considered members of the family. Left: This sweet pencil sketch of greyhounds by artist Felix O.C. Darley may have been a study for one of the many books he illustrated. Darley was one of the 19th century’s top illustrators; his work helped classics by Dickens, Longfellow, Hawthorne, Washington Irving and Edgar Allen Poe (to name a few) come to life — $750, American Eagle Antiques (no website). Right: A pair of skillfully carved mahogany whippets support a Carrara marble top on this Neapolitan console which was crafted in Italy, circa 1820 — $46,000 from Yew Tree House Antiques.Antique pencil sketch and wood furniture at Charleston Antiques Show

*Check back next Wednesday to see some of the amazing private homes and gardens I toured in Charleston.

MORE ADVENTURES IN ANTIQUING:
Adventures in Antiquing: Charleston Antiques Show Part 1
Adventures in Antiquing: (Easy!) Beachy Candle Makeover
Adventures in Antiquing: Repurposed Wooden Tray
Adventures in Antiquing: Crushing On Carrara Marble
Adventures in Antiquing: Old Toolbox Turned Magazine Caddy
Adventures in Antiquing: Old Clock Repurposed as a Frame
Adventures in Antiquing: Classical Busts
Adventures in Antiquing: Vintage Avon Bottle
Adventures in Antiquing: Salvaged Molding As Holiday Decor

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:Sigh: Charleston — my dream city! I must have lived there in some previous (and terribly glamorous) former life because I feel absolutely at home whenever I visit. The nice folks at the Historic Charleston Foundation invited me down to check out their 10th annual antiques show and peek inside a few of the city’s (amazing!) historic homes and gardens and I couldn’t get my car packed up quickly enough.

One of the nation’s premiere antique events, only select dealers are invited to show each spring in Charleston; independent auditors screen each item before it’s offered for sale to guarantee authenticity and provenance — so, none of my bargain-basement finds here. I’ll share more antiques plus some pics from my home and garden tours later but here are a few of the pieces that caught my eye:

Named for Sweden’s King Gustav III, Gustavian furniture features Neoclassical (Greco/Roman) details and a decidedly French flair — Gustav was a frequent visitor to the French palace of Versailles and modeled his court’s style after the pieces he saw there. Unlike French furniture of the period which was often gilded or shellacked, the Swedish craftsmen continued to paint their pieces in matte, pastel shades — creating the signature look that’s so desirable today. Below:  “Mora” tall case clock, circa 1800 — $8,600 and 1 of a set of 6 hand-carved chairs, signed Sven Anderson — $12,000. All available from Dawn Hill Antiques  Antique Swedish furniture at Charleston Antiques Show

I spied this Queen Anne chest-on-stand from a distance and had to get closer for a better look. It’s gorgeous, don’t you think? The wood is in amazing condition — especially considering this English piece (circa 1710) is over 300 years old. That’s right, this dresser is older than our country. Check out the fanciful arched detail on the skirt — beautiful! — $18,000. Available from Jayne Thompson Antiques Antique wood furniture at Charleston Antiques Show

Although most of the items at the Charleston Antiques Show were centuries old and European, there were a few early 20th century American gems like this charming carved bulldog head that opens up to reveal a brass-lined humidor so a Victorian gentleman could stash his cigars within easy reach — $1,900. A Bird in Hand Antiques Antique tobacco storage at Charleston Antiques Show

 *Check back next Wednesday for more of my trip to Charleston.

MORE ADVENTURES IN ANTIQUING:
Adventures in Antiquing: (Easy!) Beachy Candle Makeover
Adventures in Antiquing: Repurposed Wooden Tray
Adventures in Antiquing: Crushing On Carrara Marble
Adventures in Antiquing: Old Toolbox Turned Magazine Caddy
Adventures in Antiquing: Old Clock Repurposed as a Frame
Adventures in Antiquing: Classical Busts
Adventures in Antiquing: Vintage Avon Bottle
Adventures in Antiquing: Salvaged Molding As Holiday Decor

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I first fell in love with marbleized paper on a college trip to Italy — the swirl of rainbow colors just seemed so magical.  In Florence, a local artist showed us how it was done. It’s an amazingly simple process: You mix olive oil with watercolor or gouache paints then drop the mixture into a shallow pan filled with water, swirl the floating paint to create patterns then lay paper on the water’s surface. Because oil and water don’t mix, the paint isn’t diluted and floats on the surface, creating a swirling multicolored pattern on the paper. I loved the process for its ingenious simplicity and the fact that the results couldn’t be controlled.

With Easter on the horizon, I thought I’d try a twist on the Italian marbleizing technique when dyeing eggs by adding olive oil to the food coloring dye solutions. Here are my results:Try a new twist on dyeing Easter eggs this year -- add oil to the dye to give them a marbleized effect.

I have to admit the polka-dotted effect was unexpected but I really like it so I left several eggs as-is after a single dip in the dye bath. Others I dipped in a second color for a more traditional marbleized effect. Ready to get started? Here are the step-by-step instructions>> Rolling a dyed Easter egg in ollive oil before dyeing it a second color will create a marbleized effect.

Proudly display your finished eggs in a handmade nest or bed of excelsior: Try a new twist on dyeing Easter eggs this year -- add oil to the dye to give them a marbleized effect. MORE EASTER IDEAS:
15 Easter Egg Decorating Ideas
Our Favorite Easter Decorating Ideas
Easter Kids’ Craft: (Cute!) Painted Pail With Ribbon Roses
Weekday Crafternoon: Easter Wreath With Paper Flowers
Printable Bunny Ears — Free Printable PDF
Hatching Chick Egg
Kids’ Craft: Dyed Easter Egg Animals — Free Printable PDFs
How to Make Cascarone Confetti Eggs

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Welcome back, spring — I’ve missed you so! The weather here in Knoxville has (thankfully!) warmed, birds are singing and flowers are popping up everywhere. My backyard is abloom with crocuses, daffodils, tulips, forsythia and lenten roses putting on a colorful show. I’m a flower picker from way back. There’s hardly a photo of a preschool me where I don’t have a bunch of wildflowers (and honestly, sometimes just plain weeds) clutched tightly in my chubby fist. So when my yard breaks into bloom, I break out the scissors and head outside to claim some spring color to brighten up the indoors.

I’ve also always been fascinated by that other harbinger of spring: bird’s nests, eggs and baby birds hopping about. Obviously, I’ve no plans to bring those inside — but – in under an hour I can turn aluminum foil, moss and hot glue into a realistic looking bird’s nest that adds a sweet spring touch:Jute twine, Spanish moss and aluminum foil are all you need to make a lovely faux bird's nest for spring celebrations.

Pretty, huh? It was actually easy to make – get the complete step-by-step instructions here>> The tiny robin’s eggs are easy to craft too, my instructions include how to paint and speckle them.

You can make your nest any size you like. I made this one large enough to work as an Easter basket of sorts:Jute twine, Spanish moss and aluminum foil are all you need to make a lovely faux bird's nest for spring celebrations.

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Easter celebrations are right around the corner — time to banish winter blahs and freshen up indoors and out with a few springy touches. We’ve gathered 25 of our favorite Easter decorating ideas to inspire you. From quick-and-easy centerpiece ideas to a clever way to glam up your Easter eggs to a free, printable Easter banner — we’ve got you covered.

All 25 ideas have the official Easter Bunny stamp of approval (seriously!) but here are my 5 favorites: 

Delight Easter guests with this creative place setting idea featuring cute (and oh-so-fluffy!) feathered chicks and candy eggs:Set your Easter table with a creative place card like these cute (and oh-so-fluffy!) chicks and candy eggs

Weather permitting, bring your dining table and chairs outside and enjoy Easter dinner al fresco surrounded by Mother Nature’s changing scenery.
Weather permitting, bring your dining table outside and enjoy your Easter dinner al fresco.

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