The Art of Friendship.

Dear friends,

I’ve been a busy bee lately. Not just with the sewing and quilting the projects I shared in my last post, but also spiffing things up around the house.

If 2017 was the year of the Great Clean Out, 2018 is the year of the Great Spruce Up.

I don’t know . . . “spruce up” sounds so blah. And I’ve been anything but. I’ve been energized and energetic in a way I haven’t been in a long time. It feels so good to tweak my home. It’s a process that gives me great joy and creative inspiration.

The main project I want to show you today is an art refresh. Here’s what my living/dining room (can you say “open concept?”) looked like in December 2016.


The sofa you see in this photo was moved to the den and I purchased a new, more modern one last year for this space. The old sofa is currently at the upholstery shop being recovered in a plush navy fabric that will be perfect for the cozy den (recently refreshed with a new coat of paint, new drapes, and a new light fixture, all of which I’ll show you in a big reveal when the sofa returns).

But what I really want you to notice today is the art above the sofa. When we moved into our home 7+ years ago, those large panels were left behind by the previous owners and were blank. I thought they were so odd — both the burlap covering and the blankness — then I realized they are acoustical panels meant to absorb sound in the vaulted living space.

When an artist friend from Oklahoma visited shortly after we moved in, I mentioned how creatively stumped I was by that large stretch of wall space and asked if she’d be interested in a commission to create art for it. (I envisioned a triptych, probably square, probably abstract). My friend Alisa hesitated for probably half a second then declared “Let’s paint the panels you have!”

And so with nothing more than leftover black interior latex paint, an old trim brush (not an artist’s brush) and some red craft paint (pretty much all the supplies I had on hand), Alisa created the beautiful art you see in this photo. She painted on my front lawn. In about 20 minutes. Her husband Greg, who suggested the inspiration for the design after noticing a painted tray sitting on my ottoman, was kind enough to re-hang the panels for us by perching on a rickety ladder that Mr. Mom steadied. It remains the best housewarming gift I’ve ever received.

But as my home has slowly evolved from a mix of colors, some of them warm and earthy, to a cooler, predominately grey-and-blue palette, the art just didn’t jive. When a scheduling quirk meant that I’d be driving to Tulsa two weekends in a row for family occasions, I immediately texted my friend and asked if she’d re-do my gift if I brought the panels to her this time. Of course she said yes. And the result delights me.


Here’s a close-up view of the second panel.


The project was fraught with complications but I managed to make it work. The first was fitting all five panels in my two-seater sports car for the first trip to Tulsa. (The largest panel is 5-foot by 2-foot and fit in my car with a mere 1/4″ to spare.) The second was a painting disaster of my own doing. I had told Alisa I would paint the panels grey to save her time, but it was a disaster. (The paint just blobbed on the canvas and wouldn’t spread. See the evidence below.)

paint - 1

I texted Alisa in a panic, very nearly in tears. She assured me all was not lost and encouraged me try gesso (a product artists use to prep their canvasses). Of course I had to drive two hours to find it (since I didn’t have time to buy online and wait for delivery), but it worked like a charm. It worked so well, I left the canvasses as is and never painted them gray.

For the second trip to Tulsa, instead of traveling alone, my husband, my son, and my son’s girlfriend were joining me. I had planned to rent an SUV for the trip but availability was limited in my small town. I managed to secure the only available vehicle for that weekend (a Chevy Traverse), and after a little logistical planning and a trip to the rental lot to measure the cargo space, I determined it would fit my entire family, our luggage, and the art. Thank goodness for stars aligning!


If you compare the first photo to the second, you’ll notice the changes — other than the sofa — are pretty subtle. I edited the walls a bit (removing a few framed pieces) to make things a bit more airy. I changed out the chandelier shades from burlap to grey linen. I bought new grey and white drapes to replace the seafoam ones and I removed the blue window shades.  I painted the dining room chairs grey. I simplified the rugs from a layered look to a single rug. I switched out an end table and added some live plants. And I moved the bar from a display configuration on the desk behind the sofa to a hidden cabinet in order to visually declutter the space.

And just in case you’re curious, here’s a couple of shots of my mantle and the part of the room you can’t see from the other photos:

mantle - 1



I’ve now turned my attention to the master bedroom where I’m doing another refresh with new paint, light fixtures, rugs, etc. It’s not finished but rest assured I’ll reveal that space, too, just as soon as I get can.

With gratitude {for friends and helpers},

Joan, who wouldn’t really mind being called JoJo, in keeping with her favorite interior designer Joanna Gaines.


A king-sized makeover.

Dear friends,


Last week I made a quick business trip to St. Louis and, while I was there, I picked up a few things for Kate’s room. The results are shown in the Instagram photo above.

Maybe it’s just me, but I think there’s nothing that perks up a bedroom quite like new bedding. In addition to buying a white seersucker duvet, I purchased a bright paisley quilt, some new throw pillows, and three fun art canvasses, which we hung over her bed and then strung with twinkly lights.  All the items came from Target.

Kate had no idea I was planning a makeover and she was thrilled with the results.

Can I just say that’s something I absolutely LOVE about my daughter? She and I share similar tastes in home decor, fashion and jewelry, so I often shop spontaneously for her. I’m not sure if I always hit the mark, or she shares my commitment to gratitude and accepts my gifts graciously. Either way, it’s nice to have a daughter who doesn’t seem to have a picky bone in her body.

Why the sudden urge to re-make her bed? Well — it’s not so sudden. When we moved two years ago, she inherited the king-size bed from our guest bedroom. Because we were moving from a four-bedroom home to a three-bedroom home, we chose to discard her full-size bed rather than the spare king-size bed. Since she was leaving for college after a year, it made more sense to keep a bigger bed in her room for the occasional guest. The only problem was that by inheriting the bed, she also inherited the bedding, which neither of us really liked that much but which we made do.

I’ve been window shopping for bedding ever since — but just never pulled the trigger. Last week, I was so happy to have her home for the summer that I broke down and loaded up during a quick dash into Target. Besides, Target has great prices and the re-do met my affordability threshhold.

I think the bright oranges, yellows and pinks look terrific with her turquoise walls. And you can imagine how blank the wall above her bed looked before we hung the art. In the words of my favorite philosopher, popularly known as the Dude, the art “really tied the room together.”

If you’re interested in a closer look at some of the items, you can find the duvet here, a version of the Love pillow here, the quilt here, and the three canvasses here and here and here.

I’m delighted that Kate has a summer oasis to call her own with a true college-coed vibe, instead of the stuffy, old-lady vibe created by our former guest-room castoffs.

With gratitude {for a quick-fix and the opportunity to spread some love to my favorite college girl},

Joan, who bought the Eiffel Tower canvas because she studied French in college and still dreams of aller a Paris un beau jour

Atelier? Chick Corner? A little of both, please.

Dear friends,

I spent a good part of Saturday unpacking art and craft supplies and making a workspace for myself.

In our former home, we had a large and light-filled sunroom with a southern exposure. I co-opted half the room as a crafting area and gave it a formal name — the Magpie Dream Studio (Magpie, after my former blog moniker). I miss it.

In our new home, I’ve spent 10 months pondering where to set up shop. Should I decamp in our basement (spacious, and the mess is hidden)? In the laundry room (huge, with oodles of built-in cabinetry and a desk)? In the back-entry alcove (tucked away, perfect size for a desk, and near a large pantry)?

As it turns out, the basement got filled fast thanks to Mr. Mom’s workbench and the kids’ ping pong table. He also co-opted the laundry room. I know it sounds like a strange place for him to hang-out, but our laundry room is a gigantic space. It’s filled with light, and because of the built-in desk, it’s a perfect place for our large iMac computer. With both a computer and washing machines handy, the laundry room has become Mr. Mom’s Man Cave. And the back-entry alcove — my final choice for a crafting space — has been consumed with jackets and shoes and boots and bags. It’s just waiting for me to hire a carpenter to build a mud-room type bench and cabinets.

So every single space I contemplated has been otherwise occupied. There was only one other possible location — an alcove in our master bedroom. It wasn’t really on my list because — I don’t know — it just seemed like a mixed metaphor, of sorts.  But, upon further reflection, the idea began to grow on me.

Our bedroom is plenty large enough. Like the rest of the house, it’s light and bright, and the alcove is near a large window. I have an easy chair and side table near a television in our bedroom, which is situated right by the alcove, so I could go back and forth between my new crafting corner and my reading/TV corner. And, best of all, it’s one of the quietest spots in the house. All it would take is some shuffling of furniture.

I started by moving a bookcase that had been nestled in the alcove to another location in our home. Then I scavenged a work table (my grandmother’s antique oak table from my former Dream Studio), a shelf, a slip-covered chair, a pin board, and a lamp from other rooms — and I was almost in business.

Here’s what it looked like before I got organized.

Photo by Instagram, 1977 filter

That stack of family photos had been hanging on the wall above the bookcase before I moved it. I took them down to make room for the new set-up, not sure what I’d ultimately do with them. But once I got everything organized, I realized they’d look just fine (and provide inspiration) hung salon-style back where they began.

It looks like this now:

Here’s another view:

The green shelf is part of a two-piece bookcase that’s been unused since we moved. It makes a perfect cubby for organizing things.

Remember my friend Maridel, the collage artist I introduced you to in this post?  Here’s a couple of shots of her creations, strategically placed to inspire me.

Did you know that shells and stones . . .

and tiny vases could be such lovely works of art?

I’m itching to make my own, along with a collaged greeting card series I’ve got percolating in my brain.

After almost a year on hiatus, I’ve got just the place I need to get creative. Not as large as the space I was used to, but quite lovely nonetheless.

With gratitude {for a quiet place to dream},

Joan, who must leave this post to run to the kitchen, her other dream studio, where some peaches are calling out to be made into pie