Posted by Cobi on Tuesday June 23, 2015 at 06:22 AM
Last summer we threw a party in our backyard for some neighbours who were moving away.
It was a casual get-together but I wanted it to look nice.
I decided to go with a white theme and put my rather extensive milk glass collection to work.
To keep the flower budget down, I bought a few bunches of white blossoms at the grocery store and then cut mint, fern, oregano, hosta and various leaves from our garden to fill in the rest.
We set up folding tables, end to end, for one long communal table and lined them with white cloths. Neighbours loaned us chairs.
I tucked, blossoms and greenery into some of the vases and votive candles into others.
The blossoms lasted so well, we hosted a family dinner at the table the following night.
To carry the white theme further, I added some cobistyle white lanterns.
And mixed them with some dollar-store battery-lit ones to line the pool.
Our patio table served as the bar.
And an antique French baby-bath I own stood in as the cooler.
Even the white plastic cutlery looked in place with the all white theme.
The only colour in the backyard were some flowers dotted around the yard.
Who says you have to spend a fortune to throw a nice party? I don’t mean to white-wash it, but it really was as easy as a summer breeze.
Posted by Cobi on Wednesday July 23, 2014 at 07:00 AM
I’ve decorated our little cottage in PEI on a shoe-string. Here are a few easy ideas…
10. Framed maps of the area as affordable art.
9. Tin-topped kitchen tables from flea markets clean-up great for empty corners or porches. I painted this one with high-gloss marine paint.
8. Trays add character to cookie-cutter, thrift-store dressers.
7. Garage sale vases grouped with one or two wild flower stems make a statement.
6. Paint-by-numbers are surprisingly cute and fun to do at the cottage!
5. Choose a theme to work with your cottage and start an art collection.
4. Put an old worn chair to work by holding towels.
3. Let mundane supplies double-duty as pretty little moments.
2. Use large pickle jars half filled with local sand/stones/shells for porch lanterns.
1. Forgo plastic chairs for a pair of porch rockers - guests will fight over them!
Posted by Cobi on Monday December 31, 2012 at 06:00 AM
I don’t know if any of you remember seeing my collection of vintage noise-makers when they appeared in House & Home magazine way back in 2004.
I collected them for years but seldom seem to find them anymore. I guess I have enough anyway (39!). They range from ‘very old’ to ‘not so old’ - I can tell by the graphics and wood vs. plastic handles, plus where they’re made - Taiwan, Japan, USA and Germany. Apparently some are actually worth a fair bit more than the few dollars I spent on them.
I love their loud colours and the obnoxious sounds they make. They look great set out in a big bowl or basket over New Years and the kids enjoy the routine of opening the doors at midnight and making as much noise as humanly possible. I usually cart them to the cottage if we spend New Years up north and try to rouse the bears out of hibernation.
We’ve been known to pull them out at birthday parties too, or any celebration that needs some noise.
Perhaps you have a collectible that makes you giggle - please tell us if you do. And have a Noisy New Year!
Photography Nancy Tong.
Posted by Cobi on Monday August 13, 2012 at 06:59 AM
Ginger Jar: A Chinese porcelain jar with a wide mouth; domed lid and often a bulging, spherical body.
Although the Chinese traditionally used the jars to store a variety of goods, they acquired the name “ginger jars” because ginger was one of the most common spices exported to the West.
Today designers use ginger jars for display and decorating.
Of-the-moment American designer Ruthie Sommers chose this vignette for a recent portrait…gee, I wonder why? The mix of pretty blue and white porcelain, with powerful blue/black leather, is fresh and fun looking.
At this time of year, blue and white porcelain looks amazing outside, and it’s practical because it doesn’t rust or rot like metal and wood.
Of course it looks just as good inside loaded with blooms from the garden.
When buying a ginger jar, be sure to ask if it’s water tight so that you can remove the lid and use it as a vase.
What I love about blue and white porcelain is that it’s so quick to mingle. Look at it here in a rustic farmhouse setting…
And here in a contemporary, art-filled, classical home…
And here in a very traditional hallway….
Nothing phases blue and white - it’s like that friend who can mix equally well with royals and rebels alike.
Speaking of royals, Ralph Lauren has always used blue and white porcelain in his home line…
And I expect we will at cobistyle too. Here are just a few pieces in the current line:
Lots of pieces to mix and match…
Blue and white does love a party ~ it’s definitely at its best when grouped…
And with a classic decorating style like this, it looks like the Chinese will be exporting Ginger Jars for many years to come!
Posted by Cobi on Monday February 28, 2011 at 06:00 AM
It’s wonderful to be given something that has sentimental family meaning. It’s a beautiful way to remember and honour people who have passed and to make your home unique and your decorating meaningful. However, we all know that many heirlooms don’t suit our current day interiors and often create clutter and well, ok, I hate to say it but simply collect dust and we find ourselves including them in our rooms out of feelings of obligation and sentiment while not enjoying the objects themselves.
Here are a few ideas on how to incorporate heirlooms into your interiors while creating beautiful rooms at the same time.
Use the heirloom as a jumping off point for decorating. Here, a few old pieces of red transfer-ware are made into a focal point by building on the look further with toile wallpaper in a pretty hutch. Clearly these pieces are treasured and enjoyed every day this way.
Photos go from average to amazing when massed together and framed in a collective way. They command attention when placed together and make a great conversation point for guests.
One heirloom can spark an entire collection and why not? If you love something you’ve been given, it may just be a collection in the waiting. Just don’t forget which one has the sentimental story behind it.
Don’t be a snob about pedigree - your home isn’t a museum - mingle special family pieces with new reproductions. They will be more apt to be used and enjoyed.
Turn something old into something new. Make a few adjustments with paint or in this case, hardware, and suddenly an old piece has a new lease on life. A solution that’s easy on the pocketbook too.
If you don’t have the room or desire to display something all the time, bring out heirlooms at holidays - they will make holiday decorating all the more special.
Decorate around an heirloom. If you love it - let it set the tone for an entire room. No decor theme could mean more than family history.
Change the function of an heirloom to suit your lifestyle. This silver tea service is allowed to tarnish without apologies - many people love the time-worn patina of tarnished silver - and it’s used to hold flowers rather than afternoon tea.
And these candy dishes hold shell collections and other natural finds.
Let family pieces work for you rather than just sit on display. Your tabletops and rooms will look much more unique for it.
I will be on Steven & Chris on the CBC this Friday at 2:00pm talking more about this very thing. Be sure to tune in!
Posted by Cobi on Monday December 13, 2010 at 06:00 AM
I love the idea of incorporate collections into your Christmas decorating…
If you have Creamware…
Vintage Garden supplies …
Whatever your fancy, get it out, tie a bow on it and enjoy!
Posted by Cobi on Monday November 29, 2010 at 06:00 AM
This weekend we started decorating for the holidays - ‘we’ being my daughter, Charlotte and me. My house is definitely not a ‘decorator Christmas house’. It’s a ‘family Christmas house’ through and through with homemade ornaments and bits and this-and-that from years of collecting and crafting throughout the house. While sentimental, I also like to make things pretty of course, and enjoy playing with colours and moving things around to see what works where, making a little magic whenever possible with what we have.
Our living room suits a traditional Christmas red/green colour scheme perfectly with it’s red sofa smack in the middle. But the dining room is a different story - it’s brown and watery blue scheme demands it’s own attention. What I’ve learned looks amazing with soft blues and turquoise at Christmas time is rosy cranberry red, blush pink and lots of silver. In fact, it’s become one of my favourite colour schemes and I use lots of my vintage Christmas balls for inspiration. If you have blues and browns in your house, try forgoing the usual Christmas red and green and try thinking pink … here’s some inspiration to get you going…
Over the years I have collected many boxes of ‘shiny bright’ vintage Christmas balls just like all of these, and every year I threaten that I’m going to forgo our usual sentimental tree ornaments and only decorate in my vintage ball collection. Of course I never do it. That would be too ‘decorator driven’ for our house and my kids would kill me! We talked about it again this weekend and Charlotte told me very plainly I would have to wait until she and her brother had left home to do it (at the time she was proudly hanging a large bell ornament made from an upside-down plastic plant pot, spray painted gold with a pipe-cleaner handle).
I told her that’s ok, it gives me more years to find ornaments on sale in junk stores in January when no one else wants them. I know it will be pretty the year I finally see my ornaments all out of their boxes, and the tree is laden with sparkly balls all different but of the same vintage and with just the right patina. But as life would have it, I also know that seeing my tree will mean the years will have passed and I will be looking at it with a melancholy heart and pine for the tree of proud pipe cleaners and noodle angels.
Posted by Cobi on Monday November 08, 2010 at 06:00 AM
Last Friday I appeared on Steven & Chris and talked about arranging bookcases (if you missed it, click here to see it online).
It got me thinking how much I love bookcases in the home - even if it’s just straight white ones with a rainbow of colourful spines…
I love bookcases that wrap around doors…
Bookcases that wrap around windows…
Bookcases that go to the ceiling…
No matter the shape of the roofline…
Bookcases that even line the ceiling!…
Bookcases with wallpaper in the back…
Or painted colours to better show off the items on display…
Bookcases painted black…
Or the same colour as the walls…
Bookcases layered with art…
Running down halls…
Bookcases that turn dining rooms into libraries in the day…
Or divide two rooms…
And hold collections…
The latest decorating trend in bookcases is to ‘colour code’ your books…
It looks very cool but I’m not so sure about practical it is…
Same goes for ladders - I love the look but probably not very useful…
Speaking of not practical, this is probably my favourite room with bookcases, I love the swath of velvet in front…
But the beauty of bookcases isn’t just their appearance, it’s having them nearby a comfy place to read. It really doesn’t get much better than that.
Posted by Cobi on Monday August 30, 2010 at 06:59 AM
I have a little collection of fishing tackle boxes at our family cottage.
Here they are sitting on a children’s chair I have. I love the colours of them.
Particularly the beautiful greeny blue on the bottom one. It’s the colour of water.
But any of the greens are lovely too.
If not pretty, there’s something charming about the rough findings of a well worn tackle box.
I have to admit, I have yet to find a function for my boxes, but here are a few ideas I found…
And so as summer winds to a close, and life becomes more organized, maybe I’ll tackle one of these ideas at the cottage in the fall. Or maybe I’ll just go junk hunting for another hidden gem of a treasure box.
Posted by Cobi on Monday August 23, 2010 at 07:00 AM
I snapped this picture right before we were about to leave our cottage for home.
Such a simple thing but it made me happy to leave a little group of ready-made hurricanes for the next group to enjoy (we rent in the summer), without worries of anything precious. I filled any jars we had kicking around the kitchen with sand from our beach and a few finds of shells and rocks and voila - not original but charming none the less. Here are a few other inspirational pictures I found….
The jars don’t have to be special to make an impact. Give new life to regular canning jars you’ve tucked away for when you find time to make grandma’s raspberry jam.
Of course, the old blue jars are more special…
The other thing we did this holiday was buy some wire at the local hardware store and fashion hanging hurricanes to bring home as a gift to my sister-in-law. We thought it was kind of fun and personal that we collected the sand and little finds from our own beach where she has visited and enjoyed.
There’s something so charming about a homemade lantern…
Here’s a cute idea for parties ~ replace hook holders for solar lights with jar lanterns. A real flame to light the way seems so much more special.
Of course hanging lanterns on tree limbs, fences or porch beams always looks rustic and beautiful…
Just be sure to use lots to create a real impression…
One last thing - how cute is this - what a great party idea! I practically have enough of these in my basement to pull this look off with no more cost than the lemonade. This idea’s almost good enough to make you want to plan an end of summer party!
Posted by Cobi on Monday July 19, 2010 at 07:00 AM
One of my favourite collections is my bits and pieces of milk glass. It’s particularly fun to use in the summer.
I use the vases for flowers and leaves from the garden - hosta leaves and hydrangea look great.
But also for votive candles - the white glass just glows (sorry I don’t have a shot at night).
I also have some pieces at our cottage in PEI, they’re perfect for holding a single Lupin or Daisy bloom.
But here’s a use I hadn’t thought of…
What I love about milk glass is that it’s so easily available. There’s always a few pieces at any thrift shop at any given time and for next to nothing - you can get it for $1.00 - $2.00 a piece, less at garage sales.
What that means is - it’s easy to amass a collection in no time.
Check out this one…
But you don’t have to have tons to make an impact:
Just a few pieces look great together.
Or even just one…
It’s also easy to grab a bunch of pieces if you’re throwing a party.
And with a bit of florist tape, it’s so easy (and affordable) to do your own arrangements.
Notice that all of these flowers are cut quite short so the look plump and full, not tall and spindly.
The white glass looks great at weddings.
But don’t just think flowers, check out how great this moss looks. This whole display could be done for under $5.00!
I love this shot…and I actually own 6 of these tumblers, but I don’t have a wire holder…hmmm….gotta run…
Posted by Cobi on Monday July 12, 2010 at 07:00 AM
One of the easiest and best things we did when we decorated our cottage in PEI, was to frame a few maps of both the Provence and the city of Charlottetown.
It quickly created a couple of decorative vignette’s, but not only that, practical ones that can be used by ourselves and visitors to plan day trips and become more familiar with the island.
Local maps are an easy way to decorate your home - seasonal or otherwise.
We have a huge school map of Ontario hanging on the large stairwell wall in our home and often look to it to find places we’re discussing.
Here are some other pictures of maps used in homes:
They are a great way to anchor a vignette:
Or decorate a large blank wall. Especially when you can get up close to examine them.
Here’s a more decorative idea. Wallpapering in maps. New ones are very affordable…
and the colours are often nice…
This summer, get your directions right and hang a local map at the cottage. You’ll be on the road to success!
Posted by Cobi on Monday May 24, 2010 at 07:00 AM
Have you heard about the blogger who is photographing and showing one of her collections per day for a year?
Kind of like a ‘crazed collector’s’ version of cooking Julia Child’s recipes for a year.
Here are a few of my favourites….
You can check her out at collectionaday2010.blogspot.com.
Maybe if I photographed some of my collections I could actually purge them afterward…something to think about!
Posted by Cobi on Monday April 12, 2010 at 06:59 AM
SPRING FLEA MARKETING
Last week I was on ChumFM with Marilyn Denis, here’s what we talked about and a link to the voice clip.
Spring is the best time of year to get out to garage sales and flea markets. Just be sure not to bring home more junk! My personal test before I buy is to ask myself - do I know where I will put this the minute I get home? If I can answer yes, I can have it. If I don’t know, I pass (or try to at least!).
Here are a couple of tips from my many experiences flea marketing:
• Be comfortable - wear layers, comfy shoes and a small over-shoulder handbag with a water bottle in it and reading glasses if you need them, cash and cheque book. You want your hands to be free.
• Dress down - this is not glamorous work girls, forget the fancy clothes and jewellery. You want to be able to climb over dust bunnies to get the best buy and haggle for it once you’ve found it (hard to do in diamond earrings )
• Big Wheels - the best deals happen at the spur of the moment and when you can take it off the dealers hands right then and there. This is not the day to take the little car.
• Haggle - I know it’s not the Canadian way, but the truth is, many dealers don’t really know what price to put on something - they’ve taken a shot in the dark if it isn’t a known collectible. So tell them what you’d pay for it - you might be surprised.
• Go late, don’t go home - I’ve often swung a deal near the end of the day (especially at shows). Dealers are human - and tired by the end of a long day. They may take your price just so they don’t have to load it back up.
• Go together - If you’re out with a friend and find a few things - put them together and barter for them as a group. Volume has buying power!
• Think of others - Many people don’t think of gift shopping at flea markets - do they worry that it’s tacky to give something used? I don’t. I would love to receive a collectible or great old whatchamacallit as a gift. In fact, it’s often more personal. I look for items with initials for people I know or items from places they grew up or just something beautiful - a gorgeous crystal vase is just as good 100 years later - in fact, often better. My latest thing is collecting old Molson’s “50” memorabilia - trays, bottle openers - it works great at 50th birthday parties. Am I showing my age?
Here are some of my favourite spots to hit around the GTA. It’s a good excuse to get outa town this spring…
Southworks Antiques mall in Cambridge
Aberfoyle Antique market
St. Jacob’s Antique market
Market Road Antiques, St. Jacob’s
Antiques at the Barn in Fowlers Corners near Peterborough
Main Thru Church Antique Mall in Orono
Legacy Vintage Building Materials and Antiques
Cookstown Antiques Market
Or check out www.antiquesincanada.com for shows all over Canada like the Christie Antique Show on May 29th and Flamboro Antique shows.
Write and tell us some of your favourite haunts. Happy Hunting!
Posted by Cobi on Monday April 05, 2010 at 07:00 AM
Happy Easter Monday.
I think I’ve talked before about how I have a thing for birds, bird eggs and nests - some sunny day I’ll take some pictures and show them to you.
I put some of them away over the winter but when Easter arrives, I let them hatch all over the house again.
If you have a particular motif that you like, it’s a great way to personalize your home. And one of the best places to search for fun and interesting art and accessories is a site called Etsy. I’m sure many of you know it, but for those who don’t, it’s an amazing site, kind of like Ebay (without the bidding) but it focuses on one-of-a-kind, handmade objects. Etsy’s mission statement is: “to enable people to make a living making things, and to reconnect makers with buyers”. Pretty cool.
Here’s a selection of things I found when I searched my beloved bird eggs….
This is a lovely little print of an original acrylic painting on canvas. It measures 7” x 7” and is for sale by the artist for $12.50 US (unframed) plus shipping.
If you don’t like the idea of a print, here’s an original oil for sale with the sides of the canvas painted black so you can hang it without framing. It’s 16” x 20”, signed by the artist, and for sale for $135 US.
I love this print….it only measures 5.5” x 7.5” but it comes with a white border so you could frame it a little larger and it’s only $15 US plus shipping of course.
Or how about a beautiful little hand-felted nest to put on your window ledge for $20 US.
And of course, who could resist the jewellery…there’s tons of it. Check out this ring for $34 US.
And I love this necklace that says “little bird” for $16 US.
Or this one for $39 US….
It isn’t too late for the Easter bunny to bring mom some eggs - do you think?
All in the name of supporting Art!!