Creating a Verdigris Patina with Wax

Dry Brushing has always been my go to technique for layering paints to achieve patinas but when working with highly detailed ornate moldings, paint often falls short on highlighting the details.  Waxes on the other hand can be pushed into the crevices, with easy wax on wax off techniques.

For this project I wanted to create a verdigris finish on a mirror frame.   I started with a silver wood picture frame molding and painted it with Pure & Original's Classico Slate Gray.  Slate Gray is an off black, a softer black than Classico Black.  

To create the verdigris wax, I mixed a 1/4 teaspoon of CeCe Caldwell's Sante Fe Turquoise paint in with a tablespoon of Miss Mustard Seed's White Wax.    For a larger quantity, mix a 1/4 cup of white wax with 1 teaspoon paint. You can play around with ratios depending on how much you need for your project, but start with a small amount of paint and add until you get the right color intensity.  Keep in mind too much paint will liquify the wax.

Using a wax brush  liberally work the wax into the crevices.  

 Then gently wipe off  the wax from the relief or raised areas of the molding to expose more black surface. Just look how the tinted wax brings out all the details that may have gone unnoticed.

Once dry you can buff for a shine.

  The verdigris wax looks amazing on bronze and copper colored paints as well.  

A Kitchen Make Over in Alexandria, Virginia

We were called in to help this Alexandria client complete the final steps needed in her kitchen renovation.  She had a clear vision of what she wanted the finished space to look like as well as how it functioned.  Our job was to provide the skill and labor necessary to make the old kitchen cabinets look like new and seam beautifully with the new Carrara marble counters.  She knew she wanted a gray so we looked at all the shades of gray in the Pure & Original Classico paint palette but ultimately settled on Miss Mustard Seed's color "Schloss" Milk Paint .... it harmonized perfectly with the stainless steel and the gray shadings in the marble.

Before ...

After ...

A Kitchen Facelift at Belmont Bay

When my client came to me with her hopes of having a kitchen that reflected her style I knew right away how we would take on the project.  The existing cabinets were in very good condition with concealed hinges, a big plus.  We chose an off white chalk based paint to brighten the space.  The raised panel details on the doors were an invitation to create interest and depth with light distressing along the edges.  The nickel knobs were exchanged for a glass trefoil shaped knob with copper accents to pick up the flecks of copper in the Galaxy granite counter tops.    And to give a nod to my client's love of all things French we stenciled the overhead vent housing.  Oh, and that tres urban farmhouse chic sheep head? .... a purchase from VanEch Studio's store in Occoquan, from our Park Hill Collection.


The Afters

Photography:  Nicolas Otth

Repurposing 101

Have you ever picked up an old broken chair that you were drawn to for its charming wood back, but hello, another chair is the last thing you need.  I do, admittedly, have a fondness for these charmers, but a) have little room in my house for them, and b) have the time or funds to repair them.  So out with the saw, some paint and sealer, these vintage wood chair backs are creating a party in my garden.  Products used:  CeCe Caldwell Chalk & Mineral Paint and Endurance finish.


Bullion Fringe Comeback

Bullion fringe, pronounced "bool yuhn" has always been a go to embellishment for many designers, and today we are seeing a resurgence in its use.  Bullion has it's origins in France, and was used to describe the thick cords covered in gold and silver that adorned uniforms.  In decorating, these cotton and silk threaded fringes are most often used on the skirts of upholstered furniture to provide a couture look.  Growing up I recall the bullion fringed stool at my mother's vanity, how fascinated I was with all the twisted cords.   Many years later when she passed away, I salvaged the fringe for use in a new upholstered piece.  These fringes can run as little as $5/yard all the way up to $80/yard depending on it's complexity and what it is made out of.    Like many trims, bullion can transform the ordinary upholstered piece into something unique and luxurious.  At the bottom of this post, check out the fascinating video on how this awesome fringe is made. 

The fringe I removed from my mother's vanity stool

For casual looks try a jute fringe, a favorite go to with burlap and natural linen.

 In this monochromatic room, the fringe adds texture and interest

 Tablecloths hemmed in the silky cords look amazing too.

 This bullion has an added tassle for the wow and feminine factor

 Ottomans are a perfect piece to embellish with bullion


It's Time to Plant Paper Whites

Every year around this time I begin my indoor container gardening of Paper Whites.  Not only do I use these blooms in my own home, but I use them in my design work throughout the winter months and always have a few extra containers on hand for beautiful hostess gifts.   Paper Whites, also known as Narcissus, were named after the Greek mythological figure Narcissus, who was a hunter renowed for his beauty.  And beautify is just what you get when these white star like floral blooms grace your tables and mantles.

While you can pick up generic boxes of Paper White bulbs in the store already planted in containers, doing it yourself, in your own selected container, is easy. The fragrant flowers bloom within about 3 weeks of planting, for almost instant gratification. You can buy the bulbs in bulk at your local garden center.  See the how-to guide below for creating your own beautiful arrangements:

How to Force Paper Whites Indoors:
  •  Choose a container that complements your holiday and living space decor.   A container that is about 4" deep and has no drainage holes works best.  If you want your blooms to be in a deeper container, such as a big silver bowl,  fill the container with peat moss to roughly 4" below the container's surface and follow the directions below with 2" of stone on top.
  •  Spread an inch or two of stones, marbles or gravel along the bottom of the container.
  • Position the bulbs, pointed end up, on top of the stone layer.  Get in as many as you can as they look so much better in a large group and the tight fit will keep them upright.

  • Add more stone to fill in the areas around the bulbs.
  •  Add water so that the level reaches the base of the bulb.  Allowing the bottom of the bulb to sit in water will help stimulate growth.  Too much water however will rot the bulb.
  • The bulbs don't need light at this point but do prefer to be kept on the cool side at around 65 degrees.
  • Check the bulbs daily to see if they need water.
  • When you see stems developing move the container to a well lit window.  The sunnier the better but don't let them get too warm as they will grow leggy.  Once the plant flowers, they will last longer if moved out of direct sunlight to a cool spot with indirect light.

    You can add some moss for more greenery

Vintage containers such as this deep planter make for an elegant arrangement

Keep flopped over stems upright with a decorative ribbon

Happy Holidays!

Vintage Creative Holiday Indulgences

Soon after Labor Day I begin hoarding holiday craft and decorating ideas much like a squirrel hoards acorns.  This ritual has its early roots in my childhood when my sister and I would gather around the dining room table, elbow deep in found objects, glitter and glue, our eyes big as saucers as we followed our mother's instruction on how to create the most magical handmade Christmas decorations, all created from simple objects found around the house.  Fast forward to today,  one will still find me up to my elbows in glue and glitter, surrounded by objects that have lost their utilitarian value,  indulging my vintage holiday creativity.

One of my favorite projects is re-purposing vintage tart tins into unique tree ornaments. Each little tin provides a blank canvas to embellish.  Follow these simple instructions for creating holiday ornaments from vintage re-purposed tart tins:


  • Assorted sized pastry and tart tins.  I can usually pick them up for cents at yard sales and thrift stores.
  • Embellishments.  I love using old rhinestone buttons for a bit of bling, broken jewelry pieces, ink stamps with holiday motifs and German glass glitter.  German glass glitter is made from finely ground glass and very sparkly, unlike regular glitters.  Fair warning, once you use it, no other glitter will ever measure up.
  • A good bonding glue.  I prefer E6000 for bonding heavier items
  • White glue such as Elmers for gluing glitter
  • Ornament hangers
  •  Hammer a hole thru the tin with a sharp small nail to create a hole to hook the ornament hanger
  • Glue on your embellishments and glitter

Recycle, re-purpose,  reclaim or salvage, whichever buzz word you wish to call it, indulge your creativity by making old stuff new this holiday season

Counter Intuitive

When a client asked for my help in selecting a new tile for their kitchen back splash we had a few criteria to work with:  The existing Uba Tuba granite; her husband's desire to have a "subway" type layout; and her desire to go with something not so predictable.  We were delighted to land on a stone and metal linear mosaic from Mosaic Tile in Lorton, Va.  The "circle" element was just the right added feature to keep this strong graphic layout from going too static.  The final challenge was to convince her husband to agree to a vertical installation as opposed to the intuitive horizontal layout.  With the kitchen counter extending a stretch of 9 over feet, the vertical positioning of the tile leads the eye up placing more emphasis on this fabulous modern tile work.  Both were over the top pleased with the updated look.