Designing a Stress-Free Thanksgiving

Designing a Stress-Free Thanksgiving

I readily admit Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  I love that it's all about family and food, and just getting together to be thankful for our many blessings.  It seems to be a lull between the frenzy of finding just the right costume for Halloween, and searching for the perfect Christmas gifts...

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Creating an Outdoor "Room"

We recently endeavored on a little outdoor project that revolved around the idea of creating an outdoor "room" in our backyard.  A couple of years ago, we put in a fire pit area - we cleared the ground, put in a border material, and filled it with pea gravel before stacking the stone for the fire pit.  It's a great seating area we enjoy most of the year.  

Poufs + B&W pillows:  Target     Natural weave pillows:  Pier 1

Poufs + B&W pillows: Target    Natural weave pillows: Pier 1


We love that our property backs up to forest, but it's a constant battle to keep it from encroaching on our hard-earned outdoor oasis!  So, in an effort to create a buffer, we decided to build a garden screen to be a physical barrier from the wilder elements (ahem, poison ivy).  

My husband and I were the landscape design duo behind the screen, and it came together on the fly.  It was very important to me that the screen contribute to the overall vibe of the yard, that it not be something we just put up, but that gave the sense of an outdoor room.  

Backyard - Alison Giese Interiors
Garden Screen - Alison Giese Interiors

Eventually, covered in jasmine vine, it will create not just a sense of space, but a highly-sensory experience.  Combined with the neutral and textural elements we selected for furnishings and accents, it extends the design aesthetic we have inside our home to the outdoors, effectively expanding our living area.

I can't wait for the screen to be covered in the little fragrant blooms.  So far, so good!

Floating Art Project

I've been itching to frame out a piece of art with a simple, acrylic frame.  It's such a clean aesthetic that can really showcase artwork in a modern way.  Jenny posted not too long ago about finding acrylic frames for smaller works, but I was thinking something on a larger scale...
We gifted my sister and BIL an original painting from Brazil, and while we were visiting them, it gave me the perfect chance to test the acrylic-framing waters.
I took the artwork to a local glass and mirror shop, and asked if they could cut two pieces of acrylic to "sandwich" the artwork between.  *Note*  I anticipated "Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Willis?" looks, so I took the above inspiration photo for explanation purposes. ;)
I had them cut 1/4" (rather than 1/8") pieces for a more substantial look, and drill holes at each corner.  Since I wanted a floating look, I had them size the sheets to allow about a two-inch border around the painting.
To hang the painting, I had to enlist Ben's help (of course!).  He had to enlarge the drill holes a bit to allow for the brass screws we selected to hang the art. 

If you try this, be slooooow and careful, so you don't crack the acrylic!

Next, we cleaned the acrylic of all fingerprints.  He had a little "help."  Note to self:  next time, use latex gloves!

We used double-sided tape on the back of the painting to make sure it wouldn't slip during the hanging process.

We secured it all with brass screws through the drilled holes - straight into the wall (using drywall anchors).  ......aaaaand DONE!

I'm lovin' it!

My DIY Agate Lamps

I'm dipping my toe back into the blogging waters with this little project I've been wanting to share for some time.  I'm sure I'm not alone in obsessing over the gorgeous lamps we've all seen made of semi-precious stone, agates and geodes.  Bad News:  those things are crazy expensive.  Good News:  The area of Brazil where we live is geode mecca - where dozens of quarries and mines are found.

 I found some lamp-making kits through this seller on Ebay, knowing that with some awesome rocks, I could make my own glamazon lamps.  On our last day trip to a little mining town, I snagged two, large (about 5 lbs each) amethysts for a really reasonable price.  
I gilded the base of the rock with paint, and painted the lamp base red per Ben's suggestion.  I had planned to go boring-black on the base, but am so glad I went with my hubster's opinion, as I love how the purple-red-gold color combo amps up the glam factor.  Dontcha hate it when spouse's are right? ;)
As you can see, the rock sits in front of the lamp pole, which isn't quite the perfect-professional look I'd like to have, but it makes for a very simple project, and overall, gives the look I was going for.  The lampshade still needs a little zhushing, too.

Yes, my bedside table needs some serious styling help, but you get the idea.  A+ for effort, right?

Bent on Burl Wood

Did you know burl wood is an abnormal growth found on a tree that has typically experienced some sort of stress - like insect or fungal infestation?  Rather nice material for being an unwanted arboreal house guest, wouldn't you say?
I've been eyeing this particular desk/vanity/console made of burl wood and lucite for some time.

I've also been wondering how it, or a clever knock-off, could make an appearance in my casa.  In a DIY mind-set, I came across these options:

Contact Paper via Ebay (could work, or could be very, very B.A.D.)

Veneer sheets via Ebay - Gets the award for best looking, but also requires more of an investment...oh, and serious application skilz.

...and faux wood wallpaper via here. Possibly the happy medium.

I'm sounding crazy, but the call of the Burl is getting stronger!