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Update Your Decor By Refinishing

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At market, we see so many amazing styles and trends.  I’m often attracted to classic lines and details of furniture, but with a funky finish or creative fabric choice.  It inspires me to think about how I can revamp an older piece into something brand new!

Refinished Turquoise Bamboo ChairRecently, I refinished a set of bamboo chairs for a client.  I’m sorry, I didn’t take a “before” picture, but it was a honey bamboo finish with a light peach plaid seat.

We obviously love color here, so they were refinished in turquoise and distressed to accentuate the shape.  The seats were recovered in bold lime green with a braided yellow and turquoise ribbon trim.  These chairs are going to a beach house, so the colors are going to work beautifully!

Refinished turquoise bamboo chair detail

Refinished turquoise bamboo chair finish and trim detail








High Point Market Jadeite Bamboo ChairWhen Mary and Michelle came back from the High Point Furniture Market a few weeks ago, we flipped through all their pictures and found this chair.  Look familiar?

This market find is the exact same frame as the refinished piece.  The finish is in keeping with the “Jadeite” trend that Mary posted about last week.




It is amazing to see how you can breath new life into an old piece and make it completely fit with the latest styles.

Do you have an item that has been well loved, but has seen better days?  Maybe refinishing is the answer!  Let us help revive that piece to reflect the new trends and the new you!



Although this picture has been edited to exaggerate the amount of pollen, I’ll admit it, this is my (Autumn’s) van. Mary would never let Roxy get this dirty!

Spring has officially sprung!  Here on Lake Gaston, it looks like Mother Nature’s highlighter exploded!  Pollen shows that everything is coming back to life, but how can you enjoy life on the lake when all your outdoor furniture is coated with a yellow haze of pollen?!  Here are some cleaning tips that will help cut through even the most caked-on outdoor filth on your cushions.  Then you can get back to the fun of the season!

Fresh pollen can simply be rinsed away with a garden hose, but for heavy layers or pollen mixed with dirt, dust or other messes, you’ll need to do a bit more work. For a deep down clean, follow these steps.

You Will Need:

  • Dishwashing detergent
  • Warm water
  • Clean spray bottle
  • Scrub brush
  • Garden hose with running water

Steps to Remove the Pollen:

  1. Fill the spray bottle ¾ full of warm water. You can use hot water if you’re not concerned it will cause color run on your cushions.
  2. Add a good squirt or two of dishwashing liquid.
  3. Shake well until suds begin to form inside of the bottle.
  4. Remove the cushions from the chairs if possible. This will allow you to clean both sides thoroughly. If the cushions are attached to the frame, work with the surfaces you can see.
  5. Rinse loose pollen or debris off with the garden hose. This will prevent you from scrubbing the grime through the cover and into the cushions themselves.
  6. After rinsing, spray the entire surface heavily with the detergent solution.
  7. Follow with a good scrubbing with the brush. Use care around any ripped, torn or weakened areas.
  8. Continue until all surfaces have been cleaned.
  9. Rinse thoroughly with running water.
  10. Repeat with a second spray down and scrubbing if necessary. Rinse thoroughly once all of the grime has been removed.
  11. If cushions were removed from the chair, try standing them on their sides to dry. If you can’t do that, replace them on the chair only if there’s room for them to drip through. If they can’t be removed from the furniture, and the furniture has a solid bottom, turn the entire chair on its side to allow them to dry thoroughly. Water pooling under the cushion will cause mold or mildew to form.
  12. If possible, set the chair in the sun to speed up the drying process.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • To keep the mess to a minimum, wipe the exposed surface with a sponge soaked in warm soapy water at least once a week. Hose off to rinse.
  • Finish with a fabric protectant, if desired.
  • Always try to dry the cushions as quickly as possible. It may even help to press some of the water out. If moisture remains, it quickly becomes a breeding ground for mold and mildew, which is very difficult to remove from cushioning.

(Instructions provided by  See the original article here)


Now you can sit back and enjoy the season!  Happy Spring!


Mary Sherwood Lake Living -Working with you to create your lifestyle!

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Hippity, Hoppity, Easter’s on Its Way

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There may still be a chill in the air, but springtime IS on its way….along with one of my favorite holidays…EASTER!

Easter Chalkboard Printable (Brights)

Easter is a time to rejoice, celebrate, and decorate!  Bright combinations of pink, green, blue, and yellow are used to banish the winter blues and brighten our homes both inside and out.  Decorations can be as simple as coloring Easter eggs to designing centerpieces to making your own Easter wreath for your front door!  So whether you’re an amateur or a seasoned professional, surround yourself with the colors of Spring!


Another way to enjoy the holiday is through the delicious smells and tastes of festive Easter treats!  Jelly beans, chocolate bunnies, and of course, whimsical Peeps adorn the Easter baskets of my two little ones, but I crave something a little different!  So this year, I’m trying this new recipe for Bunny Cookie Bark (courtesy of  Hope you enjoy it as well!

Bunny Cookie Bark


  • 14 whole Oreos, broken up
  • 1 1/2 C small pretzel sticks, broken into pieces
  • 1 lb. white chocolate, almond bark or chocolate melts
  • 1 C. pastel M & Ms
  • colored sprinkles


  • Cover a large cookie sheet with wax paper.
  • Spread broken cookies, pretzels and about 3/4 C of the M & Ms onto the waxed paper.
  • Place white chocolate in a container and microwave for 1 1/2 minutes.  Stir and then microwave for another 30 seconds until melted and smooth.
  • Drizzle the melted chocolate over the cookie mixture, spreading with a spatula to coat evenly.
  • Sprinkle remaining M & Ms and colored sprinkles over the chocolate while it is still melted.
  • Place cookie tray into refrigerator until set.  Remove and gently break bark into small pieces.
  • Store in an airtight container.

bunny cookie bark


I hope the Easter bunny treats you well and please don’t forget the real reason for the Easter season!

~ Michelle

Mary Sherwood Lake Living – Working with you to create your lifestyle!



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My Little Valentine

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It’s me… Autumn!  Back from maternity leave and I have an incredibly handsome little man I’d like to show off.  It seems fitting with Valentine’s Day this weekend that I share the new love of my life.  So, here’s a bunch of photos of Ethan Campbell Wenger to get your “cute” fix. (WARNING: Possible Adorable Overload!)












Ethan 2 months old!

2 Months Old – January 25th,2015


I think that’s enough showing off for now.  Back to my mommy duties – have a Happy Valentine’s Day!



Mary Sherwood Lake Living -Working with you to create your lifestyle!

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We had an amazing turn-out this past weekend for our annual Holiday Open House.  Great customers, delicious food, and a lot of gift wrap!  In case you missed it, not to fret.  We still have tons of Christmas wonders to share.  Here is just a sampling to get you excited.  We’ve also started putting these on our Pinterest page, so check that out too – it’s a great way to organize your shopping list.

2014 Mary Sherwood Lake Living holiday open house food


We can’t talk about any event at Mary Sherwood Lake Living without talking about the amazing menu.  Yvonne of Y Cook certainly outdid herself.  She prepared Raspberry Jalapeno Popper Dip, Salted Caramel Apple Tarts, and Sweet Potato Butter Cake topped with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting, just to name a few.  Yum!






Carol Diehr Nana's Jams


We also had the pleasure of welcoming Carol Diehr of Nana’s Jams and CD Delicacies.  She presented many ideas for her delicious jams.  They are also a great gift idea!




Will Pedersen Love You Like A Rock


During our morning seminar, we presented many new ideas to add something unique to your holiday decor scheme.  Among them, we featured Will Pedersen of Love You Like a Rock.  His one of a kind creations make great gifts and can be completely customized for your needs.  He also donates all the proceeds to the MS Foundation.






Holiday decor and gifts mary sherwood lake living lake gaston


As always, our showroom was all a bustle with gifts and shoppers.  Here is just one of our many displays, which features a unique design technique Mary presented during the seminar.  Ornaments hung from ribbons at different lengths can frame a display, act as a room divider, or highlight a doorway.



We hope you enjoyed this small peek into Christmas here at Mary Sherwood Lake Living.  Come by and see it first hand for yourself!

HO HO HO and Merry Christmas from all of us at MSLL!!!

Mary Sherwood Lake Living -Working with you to create your lifestyle!

The MSLL girls just got back from the Fall 2014 High Point Furniture Market – Here’s are some of the highlights!

creative display ideas high point fall 2014

Market is a great place to find creative display ideas – how fun would it be to have a cool ride like this one as a conversation piece!  Plus, funny enough this showroom is for the company Go Home!

creative eye catching display ideas high point fall 2014

More creative display ideas – think back to your childhood with this one. The art of balloon animals!  This display is by More Council.

Unique expandable table high point fall 2014

We also look for unique engineering in furniture design. Check out this stylish dining table by Creative Metal that folds out to expand.

unique functional drawer detail high point fall 2014

This unique chest by Uttermost features drawers that function more like doors by swinging out rather than pulling straight out. Just another example of the creative features we find.

finish options in a wide range of colors high point fall 2014

This Palu chest is available in all these finished, plus any custom color!

finished drawer interior detail high point fall 2014

What a great detail! Each drawer features a different lining for an unexpected design.  Chest by More Council.

metallic finish options and creative hardware designs high point fall 2014

We are always on the hunt for ways to make furnishing even more unique. Here we have a wide selection of metallic finishes and hardware creations by Tritter Feefer Vintage to inspire our designs.

wore out after a long market high point fall 2014

All right, we’re excited about everything that was seen at market, but whew!  We’re wore out!

We hope you enjoyed seeing this small peek into the 2014 Fall High Point Furniture Market.  What was your favorite?

Mary Sherwood Lake Living -Working with you to create your lifestyle!



Fall 2014 Interior Design Trends

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outdoor accessories indoors cotton stones mason jarWith the Fall 2014 High Point Furniture Market only a few weeks away, we are eager to see the latest trends first hand.  The style spotters have made the following predictions.  We’ll be keeping our eyes peeled to see if they are right, but we’ll also be looking for any other trends they may have missed!

Merging Indoor and Outdoor with Decorative Accents – Fall is such a beautiful time of year, so it’s no coincidence that it is a big trend right now to bring some of the beauty of nature indoors this season.  Try dried leaves, stones, cotton, or twigs.  Or collect some of each in a mason jar or antique canister for a lovely arrangement.

glamorous master bath


Glamour and Glitz – Clean lines, polished finishes, and luxurious touches continue to be in high demand for design clients.  Where the light colors give an airy and open feel, there are certainly no shortage of accents to finish the look off with high end class.

Metallics: Bold Gold, Brass and Mixing Metals – Metallic finishes have flourished into a wide spectrum of colors.  And throw out the rule book – combine several finishes with stainless, bronze, and pewter to name a few.

Corduroy Bear

CorduroyWoops, not that Corduroy (I guess I have children’s books on the brain)!  This cozy fabric adds a fun texture and clean lines to upholstery.  There are limitless color options and even different widths and varieties to the texture.  It’s also perfect for fall since we’re wearing more clothing to protect us from getting the indentations from the pattern on our legs and arms!



blue accents trend 2014Blues – You name the blue and it’s hot right now.  Everything from light turquoise to deep navy.  You can even mix several shades for a monochromatic look.  Blues are also everywhere in fashion right now.  I was pleasantly surprised the other day when Ryan came home with several new shirts: one in navy and another in a very handsome sea-foam blue.  He’s fashion forward and didn’t even know it!

Grays – This is still the trending neutral.  Grays are everywhere and in every shade.  Gray washes and stains are very popular in wood finishes as well.  We have also seen a range that even incorporates grays that lean somewhat into the beige family.  


Stay tuned for our market finds to see if these trends hold true for the styles to come!

Do you have a design need that you just haven’t been able to find?  Give us the mission to find it at market!


~ Autumn

Mary Sherwood Lake Living -Working with you to create your lifestyle!


Mudroom Must Haves

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With the changes in the season and school starting up again, it’s a great time to think about how to help your family stay more organized.  Whether you have a designated mudroom or a small nook just inside your entry, this high traffic area requires organization, function, and style.  Here are some key elements for a successful space for your comings and goings.

Entry cubby with shoe storage, seating, and hooksShoe Storage – Whether you choose cubbies, shelves, or baskets, pick something that will keep your shoes accessible, tidy, and in good shape.  Throwing them in a closet in a heap reduces the longevity of your footwear and causes more work cleaning them in the future.  This is a real nuisance when you are planning to wear a particular pair and find another shoe’s foot print on top of it as you’re trying to run out the door!

Seating Space – A large bench isn’t required.  Just as long as you have a spot to sit to put on and take off your shoes.  Personally, I find that the larger, more open the surface I have, the more likely I am to use it as a catch-all and it gets too cluttered to actually use for it’s intended purpose.  (I just discovered I have a dining room table – who knew!)  So a small bench, ottoman, or stool will work great.

mudroom with low maintenance floors, cubbies, and hooksLow Maintenance Floors – It’s called a mudroom for a reason.  Traditionally these rooms are located at the back of the house and used to shed the filth of the outdoors rather than track it into the house.  With so many tidy designer mudrooms in trend right now, it’s hard to imagine living in them and keeping them that way.  So pick a flooring material that will hold up to the scuffs and the muck.  Here’s a great article on Houzz about the best flooring materials for mudrooms.  I’m always a sucker for a classic black and white tiled floor!

Mudroom space with message boardOrganized Storage for the Family – Everyone has their own going out accessories, so keep it somewhere you’ll remember to look if you’re running out the door in a hurry.  Giving each member of your household a designated space keeps book-bags, purses, and briefcases available without taking over.

Space for Damp and Dirty Items – Going back to the traditional intent of the mudroom, designate storage for the muddy stuff.  Provide a hamper for dirty cloths.  A tray for the grungy shoes works great to let them dry separate from your nicer footwear.  Some wall hooks are great to dry jackets, sweaters, and umbrellas.  I also like to keep an old towel handy for my soggy pups after a walk in the rain.

Keep You on the Go! – Don’t forget to keep other necessities organized.  Use hooks for your keys so you’re not searching in hand bags and pockets.  Where are you going?  A message board with a calendar and to-do lists is great to have just as you’re running out the door.  It’s also a great idea to have your mail organization visible as a reminder of what’s come in and what needs to go out.

How have you organized your space to make it more functional for your family?  We’d love to hear about it!

Or do you need a little help in this department?  We’re here to help!


~ Autumn

Mary Sherwood Lake Living -Working with you to create your lifestyle!

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The Complete Nursery Design on a Budget

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It’s been a while since my last posts on the progress of my nursery make-over… and it’s finished!  Great timing because we just received some amazing news to share also – we’re having  a BOY!!!  Check out the finished space in the pics below.

(You’ll also notice our pup Oscar in several of these pics making sure we have everything perfect for his little brother on the way!)

Budget Nursery Design Completed Project

(Oscar says “Mom – don’t forget to take the tag off that bear in the chair! Big No-no for little brother!”

We decided to stay with the sunshine orange walls that we already had in the guest room, but added punches of lime green and turquoise.  The color palette was inspired by the indoor/outdoor fabric I used to recover the chair and for the crib bed skirt.

Nursery Chair Before

Rocking Nursery Chair Before – in all it’s original 1970’s glory!

Here is a “fabulous” chair I found in my parents’ attic.  Besides the unattractive fabric and the decades of dust and grime, it was in really great shape and the rocking mechanism still worked smoothly.

After I removed the arms and original fabric, refinished the legs, and began recovering it, we decided to leave the arms off!  It feels more open in the space and it’s more versatile to get in and out of.

I paired it with an inexpensive storage ottoman that will double as a toy box.  It even has a convenient little pocket on the side for story books.

Budget Nursery Design Completed Project View #2

Here’s a view from the other side of the room.  The two dressers were revamped and featured in previous blog posts, which you can check out here: Dresser to Changing Table and Tall Dresser with Shelves.  I covered the changing table pad with vinyl – easy cleanup for the inevitable from our messy little man!

With the inspiration of a great friend from college (Thank you, Cheryl!), I was reminded that I needed to incorporate one of my signature furniture styles with the small table made entirely out of multiple layers of plywood.  I sculpted the body of the table in a beehive shape and stained it with yellow food coloring.  The yellow blended with the warm brown tones of the wood gave it the rich orange color that worked so well with the rest of the nursery.  Painted on the top is a tiny bumble bee (like the ones painted on the walls).

Adjustable Crib Bed Skirt Detail

Detail of how the crib’s bed skirt is adjustable with the use of large paper clips.

Our crib is adjustable to grow with our little man.  So I wanted the bed skirt to have the same flexibility.  I made the skirt in 3 separate panels (don’t need the 4th side because it will always be against the wall).  Then I just clipped each panel on with the large paper clips.  As we lower the bed in the future, I’ll just fold the extra fabric at the top and re-clip it into place-Super Easy!


Budget Nursery Design Completed Project View #3

Bee is for Boy! The hexagonal shapes on the wall are chalk board decals – fun to write messages and easily removable for the future.

The bumble bee theme was inspired by one of our favorite TV shows – Pushing Daisies.  (Not a really well-known show, kinda a cult classic – only aired for 2 seasons, but we still love it.)  The quotes on the walls are pulled from some of our favorite episodes.

  • “A Happy Hive is a Happy Home” is over the crib.
  • “The Facts Were These…” is over the book shelves.
  • “That’s Terrifying… That’s TERRIFYING!” is over the changing table (enough said!).

I only have one design feature left to complete.  The blank canvas hanging on the wall shown above will soon be a portrait of “Pigby”, a pig from the show and the fun pet-name we’ve been calling our little porker until his arrival.

We are so excited about the upcoming arrival (due December 4th) – and even more excited and grateful to have the love and support from my amazing MSLL family.  You all ROCK!

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below if you have any tips or memories of raising a little boy.  I’m sure he’s going to be a handful, but in our fun-loving family he’ll fit right in!

Thanks! ~ Autumn

Mary Sherwood Lake Living -Working with you to create your lifestyle!

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August is just a few days away, so make the most of it and take it outside! Here on beautiful Lake Gaston, we have the perfect back-drop for a picnic.  So enjoy National Picnic Month in style!

Earlier this year, we discovered a fun website that lists holidays for everyday. It’s been nice to stop for a second and pause in reflection of some of these specials days.  Other days, however, have been really creative and quirky – like “Something on a Stick Day” on March 28th (I celebrated with corn-dogs for dinner and pop cycles for dessert!).  Here’s the link to the site I use:

picnic on the boatWith August just a few days away, I was searching to see what we have to look forward to.  There are many special days, like “Sister’s Day” (1st Sunday of August, Aug. 3rd 2014), “National S’mores Day” (Aug. 10th – YUM!), “Relaxation Day” (Aug. 15th – Always important), and “National Dog Day” (Aug. 26th).  But August is also National Picnic Month – so celebrate all month-long by dining more casually and enjoying the scenery.


Picnic on the move – One of the most fun things about living on the lake is the opportunity to dine on the boat.  Pack your basket and head to the water!  Just don’t ride the waves too fast while your guests are trying to eat and drink.

picnic hat


Be aware of the sun and heat – Try to pick a shady spot to settle and wear sunglasses and sun screen.  Invite friends to bring large brim hats – fun way to beat the heat!  I always forget about the part in my hair and it gets burned, so wearing a hat would solve this issue.  You could also go really classic and bring umbrellas or parasols.




packit cooler bagConsider the longevity of the food – How long do you plan to be outside?  Be aware of any dairy products that could get a little questionable in the sun and heat. Plan to take a cooler, like these great PackIt cooler bags. They are great to keep in the freezer all the time so they are ready when you need them.  And they fold up small when not in use.


breakfast picnicDon’t forget the most important meal of the day – Enjoy a breakfast picnic!  Start the day off right by packing up some muffins, scones, jams, fruit, and juice for a romantic meal at sunrise.  Just don’t forget a thermos of coffee for those that need that extra kick in the morning!


indoor picnicWeather not cooperating – Picnic Inside!  Don’t let a little rain dampen the occasion. Pack up your basket just like you normally would, but lay your picnic blanket out on the living room floor! Weather so bad that it knocks out your power? Even better – Picnic by candle light.  Another added bonus of dining inside is that you won’t have to worry about ants and other insects.

Picnic on the road with Tailgating! – Just around the corner, we also have football season.  Take your love of picnics with you!  Need more inspiration?  We have a great tailgating cooking class coming up.  The menu will feature a Little Bites Tray including Sweet & Spicy Deviled Eggs, Bacon Wrapped Pineapple Bites, & Stuffed Peppadews, as well as Marinated Chicken and Hot Peppers Sandwiches.   Join Chef Yvonne for this delicious Tailgating Cooking class to show your team spirit!

How do you enjoy the great outdoors?   We’d love to see pics of you enjoying National Picnic Month!


Thanks! ~ Autumn

Mary Sherwood Lake Living -Working with you to create your lifestyle on Lake Gaston and Beyond!


Stay-cation on Lake Gaston

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A Stay-cation is taking the time off for some R&R, but staying close to home to save a little cash.  This is a great idea, just as long as you actually rest instead of catching up on your to-do list.  I just read a great post on Houzz about ways to get the most out of your stay-cation.  It really hits home because here on Lake Gaston, we have the opportunity to enjoy many benefits of the stay-cation just about anytime!  Here’s the link to the full post on Houzz: Simple Pleasures: 25 Ways to Make the Most of Your Staycation.  Below is just a sampling of my favorites from their list, showing how you can take some of this list and apply it everyday on Lake Gaston!

Life is better on Lake Gaston

1. Savor the Outdoors:  This is a no brainer!  Enjoy the view, sit outside with your morning cup of coffee, and be thankful for all that is around you.

2. Host a Movie Night Outdoors:  This can be done simply with a portable DVD player or a tablet.  Or with a bit of creativity, you can engineer a temporary movie screen with a white sheet or tarp and a digital projector.  Relive the days of Drive-In Movies.  (This is something Ryan and I love to do a couple times a month.  We just watched “Underdog” under the stars this past weekend!)

5. Enjoy a Massage:  There are some amazing resources around the lake to enjoy some “me time.”  My personal favorite is Healing Kneads.  You can do as little as a relaxing pedicure, or you can go all out for a full day of pampering with a massage, facial, pedicure… the works!

6.  Sign Up for a One Day Class:  Here at MSLL, we offer cooking classes a couple times a month on a variety of different topics.  If they don’t fit your schedule, we can do a private class for you and some friends.  Chef Yvonne Hoffman of Y Cook? is very talented in a variety of different cuisines to suit your tastes.  We are also hosting a skin-care beauty event with Patty Bunch (Make-up Artist to the Stars) in a couple weeks.  Check it out here!  There are also fun seminars at many of our special events, so just let us know what you’re interested in and we can see what we can do!

14. Have the Post Office Hold Your Mail:  It seems like a simple idea, but go through the prep of a true vacation even though you’re staying around.  By eliminating the everyday distractions and chores, you will feel more free to relax and enjoy your time.

15.  Hire a House Cleaning Service:  This is a must!  Use your time off to really relax.  Get out of the house for a few hours (maybe during your spa time) and come home to a clean house you don’t have to worry about.  Someone else has done the dirty work!  One of our favorites is Angel Watson of Angel’s Professional Cleaning.  She does a wonderful job and is very courteous.

20.  Bring Home Fresh Flowers:  Another subtle touch that can made a big difference.  There are many sources for this as well.  We have been working with Pam Ballew of Petals by Pam.  She brings us fresh cut flowers on Friday mornings, and they stay fresh for days!

25.  Take Pictures!  It may seem silly, but if you’re having a great time, you should capture the moment!


How have you made your time special so far?  We’d love to hear about your adventures in the comments below!

I hope you had an amazing 4th and hope you can continue to enjoy your summer on beautiful Lake Gaston!

Thanks! ~ Autumn

Mary Sherwood Lake Living -Working with you to create your lifestyle on Lake Gaston and Beyond!

Summer is an amazing time here on beautiful Lake Gaston.  It’s always wonderful when the weather allows us to enjoy some time out in the sun and water.  But sometimes we can also use a much-needed break.  You can take advantage of the wonderful view from inside, but what if you have too much sun to appreciate it?  Here are some different window shading options to suit your different needs.

– Draperies – A classic and versatile design feature that can reduce or eliminate the impact of the sun’s harsh rays.  With a wide selection of drapery fabrics, the design options are limitless.  Plus, these fabrics can be paired with standard lining, interlining, or blackout lining to work with the amount of light filtering you need.

Hunter Douglas Silhouette window shades detail

– Hunter Douglas Silhouette window shades – This has to be one of our favorite shading products.  It functions similar to a roller shade, but combines the softness of sheers with many versatile light control options.   As they are rolled down, they appear to be a solid panel that can provide anywhere between light filtering to room darkening.  When all the way down, the shade pops open to reveal the true construction – it is actually a series of light controlling veins that are suspended between two layers of sheer fabric.  Plus, when rolled all the way up, it is all contained within a compact head-rail, leaving your view virtually unobstructed.

Hunter Douglas Duette energy efficient shades

– Hunter Douglas Duette honeycomb shades – These shades, with the honeycomb construction, give you more than just light control.   Duette shades are also very energy efficiency to keep heating and cooling costs under control.  Air is trapped in the pockets, controlling the escape of air around windows.   Hunter Douglas offers lots of color options and construction configurations, giving you exactly what you are looking for.  They also fold up very tightly, giving you little to no view obstruction.

Hunter Douglas Shutters

– Hunter Douglas Shutters – For a classic traditional look and full light blocking, consider custom built-in shutters.  They are available in many finishes and can be custom shaped for any application.  As you can tell, we love working with Hunter Douglas products – they offer great customer service and a life-time warranty.

– Solar Window Film – Want to enjoy your view but are suffering from the blinding sun?  Solar window film gives you full view through your windows and can control the amount of glare and/or heat.  There are many film options to suit your needs.  This is also a wonderful option if you want to keep your full view, but are concerned about your interior furnishing fading in the sun.

These are just a few of the options available.  We have many other options that could work for you as well.  Let us know how we can help!

How do you like to enjoy your time at Lake Gaston inside?  Is there a special shady spot where you like to kick back for a summer afternoon nap?  We’d love to hear about it!

Thanks! ~ Autumn

Mary Sherwood Lake Living -Working with you to create your lifestyle!

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So happy and excited about the upcoming addition to our little family! If you missed the big announcement a few weeks ago, Autumn’s having a baby! Feeling great too, so doubly blessed!  While I have high energy and creativity, I’ll keep working away at the updates to “baby-land.”  Today’s update: A New Life for an Old Dresser.

Nursery dresser re-do beforeHere you see the before:  This dresser had definitely seen better days.

  • It wobbled when you sat something on top of it or opened a drawer – very unstable.
  •  The drawer glides had been damaged from years of rough use.
  • The overall aged looked was not going to fly for this unique space.
  • Also wanted to achieve some variety in storage with shelves.

So what did I do?  First for the repairs and modifications:

  • Took out the top 2 drawers and removed the dividers in this section.
  • Removed the back panel.  Same as the previous furniture piece, the thin back panel was providing little support.
  • Removed any broken or bent nails at vulnerable joints.  Then re-glued, nailed and clamped these joints to secure them.  Even though I planned to replaced the back panel with a thicker, more supportive sheet of plywood, I wanted to make sure it would be as stable as possible.  It is important with taller pieces like this.
  • Removed and replaced the old drawer glides.  I went back with wooden drawer glides again, but this time it has a hard plastic female piece that attaches to the drawer.  Keeps it secure and won’t break as easily.  TIP: Rub wooden drawer glides with a bar of soap.  This helps them slide smoothly with no friction so they last longer!
  • Built new shelf compartment.  I made this as a  completely separate cubby-style box.  Even made sure to measure some of our books to make space for the different sizes.  Secured box to furniture piece with screws.
  • Attached new back panel.  I made sure to do this last so that I had full access to the inside from both sides during the other fixes.
  • Filled holes for old hardware and drilled for the new.
  • Filled any scratches or holes and sanded everything in prep for painting.  Wipe clean with a clean, damp cloth.

Nursery dresser re-do afterNow for the fun part, the finishing touches that lead to this amazing after:

  • Prepped everything with one coat of white primer.  Note: Lightly sand with very fine sand paper between each coat.  This makes sure each coat strongly adheres.
  • Continued to paint all the white areas with the necessary number of coats.  The raw new areas (back panel and cubby shelves) needed 4 total coats including the primer.  The other white areas (drawer fronts, top, edges) only needed 3 including the primer.
  • Painted accent colors – the green required 3 coats of its own while the turquoise only took 1.  Different styles of paint brushes will cover differently, so you will learn from experience.  I used small artist brushes for the turquoise details.
  • Attached new hardware.

Voila!  A creative “new” dresser for baby-land.  Then we had the fun of loading it up.  Tall books in the left, shorter books stacked on their sides in the center, and records on the right.  (Had to include vintage classics like the Mary Poppins soundtrack!) Then added even more fun with the stuffed characters – gotta love Cookie Monster and Snuffleupagus!

One more piece checked off the list for our little one’s room.  It’s coming together, one bit at a time.  If you wanted to see the changing table in the previous post, check it out here!  We’re so excited to see it complete and share it with our bundle of joy.  This is definitely going to be one fun-loving kid!

CALLING ALL EXPERIENCED MOMS:  I’m asking for input again – I’d love to know how you relax and unwind.  With the exciting (and somewhat terrifying) changes approaching, I could use a little release.  With my projects and very supportive hubby, most of the stress has been under control.  I just want to make sure I keep it that way!

I love you all for the support and encouragement during this time in my life. Looking forward to the future and all that goes with it!

Thanks! ~ Autumn

Mary Sherwood Lake Living -Working with you to create your lifestyle!

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BIG NEWS – Ryan and I are expecting!  So with the upcoming pitter-patter of little feet, I’m getting started with my own creative energy.  I love giving furniture and accessories new life with a little elbow grease and paint, and the nursery will be no exception.  We’re due the beginning of December, so I’m getting started now – before my belly gets in the way!  Here’s the first of a series of the different projects I’m undertaking to make “baby-land” unique!

Small white dresser before


Changing Table from Dresser

I started with an inexpensive white dresser given to me by a friend (similar to the one shown to the right).  Overall, it was in pretty good shape, but it did wobble a little bit.  To stabilize it, I replaced the thin back board (not much more than card board) with 1/4″ ply wood.

For the top, I added a frame of trim to keep the changing pad in place.  Next, I filled any scratches or dents and gave the whole piece a light sanding before paint.

Top of Changing Table Dresser RedoMy favorite color is green, Ryan’s is orange, so we’ve decided the overall color scheme for the room will be bright orange, green, and turquoise.  Another pro of using our favorite colors – I’ve used them before and had left-over paint, so no money spent there!  The body of the dresser was painted bright green, the drawer fronts and the top crisp white.

The knobs are where I really had fun!  I re-purposed over-sized button Christmas ornaments (that’s right, Christmas ornaments!).  I had 5 in total, 4 bright colors and 1 white.  I used the colorful button and attached them to old wooden spools to stand off from the drawers.  Worked Great!  For the last 2 knobs I needed, I painted fun swirl designs to the existing knobs and it pulled it all together.

Here’s the finished piece in front of the bright orange wall.  This poor child is never going to sleep in this bright room – or maybe it’s poor parents!  Oh No, what have we done!

Finished Changing Table from Dresser Transformation

This is just the first of many projects I have in the works for the nursery.  Here are a few, and we’ll see what else I come up with:

  • Tall dresser updated to include shelves for book and records
  • Custom mobile (including that large white button I have left)
  • Re-upholster chair that rocks (both physically and colorfully!)
  • Custom changing pad (has to be custom for this custom changing table!)

CALLING ALL EXPERIENCED MOMS: I’d love to have any advise or pearls of wisdom you might share!  Any must haves that saved you in a time of crises?  Any so called “baby necessities” that you never ended up needing?  Please share – I can’t learn everything from books and Googling!

Thanks! ~ Autumn

Mary Sherwood Lake Living -Working with you to create your lifestyle!

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Asian Inspired Design Trends in 2014

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At the 2014 Spring High Point Furniture Market, we saw many trends popping up and learned of others that should be emerging over the next few years.  A main theme we certainly saw a lot of was the influence of traditional Asian concepts in contemporary design.  Here is just a glimpse at ways to incorporate some Asian influence into your decor.

Asian fabrics collage high point spring 2014

Asian influenced fabrics were seen all over market. Although they definitely show Chinese or Japanese motifs, they can also be sprinkled into transitional designs to add conversational interest and even whimsy.

Last week, Dixie posted about many sweeping trends we heard about while at market. Here’s the link if you’d like to see the article.  Some concepts that she discussed that can be used with the Asian trend are: Scale, Luster, and even blended with Neutrals.  

Asian designed rooms and accents high point spring 2014

Here are some room arrangements showing transitional furniture with Asian influenced accents. Also shown is how to incorporate this theme with other trends like deep blue walls, lustrous finishes, and large scale focal points.


How could you bring in some the Orient into your design?  A dragon fabric?  A lustrous lamp?  Traditional calligraphy?   There are many ways to have fun with this formal design trend.  So much fun that you may bring it into other areas of your life.

 “Domo Arigato!” (“Thank You Very Much” in Japanese)



Mary Sherwood Lake Living -Working with you to create your lifestyle!

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2014 Spring Color Trends

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Spring-2014-color-trendsIt’s officially spring, no matter what the weather decides to do.  In honor of the season, we posted this picture last week on Facebook, showing the current color trends.  The colors chosen for spring 2014 range from neutrals, pastels, and bold colors.  So how can you use these in your home design?

Neutral sand wall color bedroom designNeutrals are wonderful to use as wall colors because they really become timeless.  By choosing a color like Sand with Paloma trim, the warm walls will work with many color combinations.  Here you see it paired with fabrics featuring grays and deep blues (close to Dazzling Blue), but Sand could also work well with Violet Tulip,  Radiant Orchid or Cayenne.


Placid Blue Neutral BackdropSome interesting choices in the pastels can actually be treated as neutrals also.  Hemlock or Placid Blue are found in nature, so they both work seamlessly as backdrops for many color palettes.  For example, here is Placid Blue as the wall color in this bedroom, with pops of the more vibrant colors of the season.  Freesia, Celosia Orange, and Cayenne would be lovely and energetic in contrast to this calming shade.

Blue Accent Wall at Mary Sherwood Lake Living


Of course, here at Mary Sherwood Lake Living, we love pops of color!  These cheerful hues of spring are very inspiring for us.  Every year we select a color to feature on the accent wall in our front sun room.  This year we chose a deep, rich blue, close to Dazzling Blue.  Whether you have bright artwork and accessories or more light and neutral pieces, this deep tone creates dramatic contract and interest.





How else could you use these fun colors of spring?  How about your wardrobe and accessories!  We’ve teamed up with Soldsie – a unique shopping experience on Facebook where you have a limited time to purchase items before they hit the showroom floor!  “Tease-Me Tuesday Sales” will be on Tuesdays at 8:30 PM (eastern time) starting April 1st.  We’ll even have a give-away on Monday, March 31st for a coupon.  And it’s so easy to shop – once you’ve registered with Soldsie, all you have to do is write “Sold” in the comments of an item you want to purchase.  So check us out on Facebook for full details and register today!

Soldsie Tease Me Tuesday Sale at Mary Sherwood Lake Living


Mary Sherwood Lake Living – Working with You to Create Your Lifestyle on Lake Gaston, on Facebook, and Beyond!

Lighting is one of the most vital elements of kitchen design.  Here’s a link to a previous post about the 5 Ways to Light Up Your Kitchen.  While functional lighting is truly important, accent lighting really pumps up the “WOW Factor”. Pendant lighting over an island, peninsula, or small dining table is a great way to add style and shine.  Here are 3 different styles of pendants to consider when designing your kitchen.

Series of Pendant Lights in Lake Gaston Kitchen DesignIndividual Pendant Lighting

Pendant lights come in a wide range of colors, styles, and sizes.  A series of pendants over an island or peninsula act as suspended jewels in your kitchen.  Depending on the light chosen, pendants may not be enough light to be functional on their own, but they really add detail and life that draws your eye upward.  They can be hung all at the same level or they can be arranged at different heights, depending on the look you are trying to achieve.  Pendants are truly a versatile and engaging design feature.




Linear lighting in Lake Gaston kitchen designLinear Suspension Lighting

Linear suspension pendants can hang beautifully over kitchen islands or over rectangular dining tables. They work best in kitchens that are spacious enough to handle a fixture with more length and presence. For both bright task and decorative kitchen lighting, use a decorative suspension along with recessed lights and undercabinet lighting.


drum shade lighting in lake gaston kitchen designDrum Pendant Lighting

Instead of mini pendants, consider placing 2 or 3 drum pendants over a kitchen island.  Drum pendants are a current trend in kitchen design for their beautiful touch of elegance–elevating the charm and warmth of your kitchen when entertaining guests.

What is your style of pendant lighting?  We’d love to hear about it and see it in the comments below!


Mary Sherwood Lake Living – working with you to create your lifestyle!


Top Pics from the 2014 KBIS/IBS

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We’re back from the 2014 IBS/KBIS/IWCE (International Builders’ Show/Kitchen and Bath Industry Show/International Window Coverings Expo) in Las Vegas.  By combining these shows, we were very pleased to see so many dealers and attendees this year.  Here are just a few of our favorite products and kitchen design ideas.

Freedom Induction Cooktop by Thermador and Benchmark FlexInduction Cooktop by Bosch 

Induction Cooktops from the 2014 KBIS

Brand new options for induction cooking with limitless options for the size and shape of your cooking vessels.  You no longer have to use a round pot the size of the designated circle on your cooking surface.  These cooktops give you the option to adjust the surface for your needs.  For example, you could use a griddle that could be evenly heated or divided into two separate zones.

New advances and application for LED lighting

LED Lighting from 2014 KBIS

LED Lighting has continued to advance with new design applications.  Interior cabinet lighting options have expanded to illuminate every dark corner in your home.  Beyond strips of light for undercabinet use, you can envision these same strips as decorative accent light all over your space.

QMotion – motorized drapery rod that is silent

This revolutionary new drapery rod changes everything we new about motorized window treatments.  The leading drapery ring of each panel rides along a groove which pulls the drapery open and closed as it rotates.  The motor and batteries are concealed inside the rod itself.  Plus, it is completely silent!  This is amazingly functional and beautiful!

Fun in Las Vegas We also had a lot of fun after the shows.  We attended a high energy performance of “Recycled Percussion”, complete with a random cookie break (YUM!).  We experienced the unique and elaborate characters at “Divas”.  We also toured the Bellagio’s Foyer with Chihuly Glass Ceiling and Courtyard with Chinese New Year theme garden.

Here is a sampling of the Fountains outside the Bellagio:

Mary Sherwood Lake Living – Working with you to create your lifestyle at Lake Gaston and Beyond!

A few months ago, I wrote about some great budget friendly updates you can make to your kitchen.  Check out the original post here.

Yep, I’m still dreaming of the kitchen I hope to have one day.  We’re heading to KBIS (the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show) in a few weeks, so I’m sure to get even more inspiration.  In the mean time, Ryan and I have spruced up our current kitchen to add some style and appeal.  So here’s a recap of some of the ideas from before and how we used them.

Kitchen Before:

Kitchen Before Update Inside and OutWe have site built cabinets, painted white with a single black knob.  The counter tends to get cluttered, so we wanted to see if we could reassess what we need and where everything lives.  I also wanted to see about opening up some of our closed storage and liven it up with some new paint.

Kitchen Updates Inside Organization PlanningRe-organize and Clean – We started by taking a good hard look at everything (and I mean everything) and narrowing down what we need and how often we use it.  Everything came out and the cabinets got a deep cleaning.  Every item got assigned a home based on where it gets used and how often.  Things that don’t get used much would get relocated to above the refrigerator.  Quite a bit got donated or pitched.

Next, I took off the doors of a section of cabinets I wanted to open up.  I did this as an experiment –  I set up what I wanted to display and see if I was happy with it.  We then lived with it for a few days to see if it was organized how we could function.  If it didn’t work, then I could just put the doors back on.  Happily it worked great!  I took a picture to document the arrangement and then cleared it off again to prep for painting.

NKitchen Update New Hardware Templateew Hardware – Before painting, we drilled for all the new hardware.  That way, we could patch the old and touch up if we had any drilling mishaps.

The process went quickly with the use of a template.  Simply use two scrap pieces of wood to make a T shape.  Shown here, the short side will rest along the edge of the door.  Then drill your template with the desired placement for your hardware.  Mine may look messy, but I used the same board for doors and drawers in hardware of different sizes.  Just make sure you remember or label which holes are for which location.

I changed all the black knobs to linear pulls in a stainless finish for a more contemporary look.  It is also much more comfortable to open large drawers with the long pull compared to the tiny single knob we had before.

Kitchen Updates Painted Open CabinetsPaint – The very old cabinets needed a fresh coat of paint and a new look.  I still love the brightness of white, so we planned to brightened it up since it had yellowed with age.  I also wanted to add more interest to the open shelves by painting the back wall a light grey.

But first, I filled and repaired any flaws and holes from the doors that we removed.  Then we sanded everything!  Sanding is a very important step to make sure that the oils from cooking and your hands are removed so the new paint can adhere properly.  Once again clean all the surface of any dust.

I used paint with a semi-gloss finish because it wipes clean easily in the kitchen.  I also used an angled brush which makes it easy to cut in close to edges and details.

Kitchen Update FinishedHere is the finish product:

  • Cleaner counter space (Hey, some counter accessories are a must – like the Oscar the Grouch Cookie Jar for our doggy treats)
  • Organized zones (I even have a tea zone for the amazing amount of flavored teas I found when we were sorting – organized neatly in an old soda crate with dividers.)
  •  Brighter look with the interior cabinet paint.
  • New look and function with updated hardware.

I am very happy with the results.  I’m still dreaming of the future, but I’m sleeping more soundly with the kitchen I have.

Need more ideas to update your kitchen?  Every space is different, so we’d love the opportunity to come up with solutions for you!


Mary Sherwood Lake Living – working with you to create your lifestyle!

We’re Back!  After traveling to Atlanta for the January Gift Market, we’re home and excited about all we’ve found.  We document the whole experience with photos so we can refer back to anything we’ve seen.  This year we took over 900 pics!  Here is a tiny look at a few of our favorite picks for new products that will be coming in soon.

Christmas at the Lake ornament

Christmas at the Lake Ornament – will be customized with “Lake Gaston”

Autumn’s Pick:

Although we found lots of wonderful items at market this year, my favorite had to be this adorable “Christmas at the Lake” ornament.  This is a large ceramic ornament that is sure to take center stage in your Holiday decor.  We will have them customized with “Lake Gaston”, so you can’t find them anywhere else.  Plus, we’re bringing them in this summer, perfect for gifts and memories all year long!






Scribble Linens Chalk Board Table Runner

Scribble Linens Chalk Board Table Runner

Dixie’s Pick:  

“Scribble Linens” is a company I got excited about during our Atlanta market trip. This company has a playful collection of reversible chalkboard table linens. The collection includes runners, placemats, table cloths, and coasters with really fun fabric designs as well. Their motto is, “Pass the chalk and get scribblin.” They also offer colorful chalk pens to use for your scribble. The chalk comes off easy with only water and doesn’t leave evidence of previous scribbles. I can envision our friends on Lake Gaston using these at their next lake home events. The creative possibilities for these are endless!  Use them as name cards for place settings or for names of your famous tasty treats.  You can also have fun with the kids playing tic-tac-toe. Just remember make it fun, colorful, and keep on scribbling!


Mary’s Pick: 

My favorite pick is definitely the new outdoor furniture we plan to display on our front patio.  It is very comfortable and weather resistant. The bold black and cream stripe fabric is sophisticated and striking.  I envision throwing an assortment of colorful outdoor pillows on this neutral background.  The possibilities are endless.  We plan to use four chairs and the cocktail table to create a casual dining and conversation area.

Dreaming of cool summer breezes on the deck or pier…



Mary Sherwood Lake Living – Working with you to create your lifestyle at Lake Gaston and beyond!

Categories : Design
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It’s here, the crunch time before Christmas when you’re checking your list for the 2nd time (or the 20th!), only to find a few people that have been overlooked.  Your shopping budget has already been exceeded and you are out of ideas.  Don’t panic!  Here is an easy, delicious and beautiful gift idea that is sure to please your recipients and your wallet.

Holiday Cranberry Winter Cookie Mix

Cranberry Winter Cookie Mix in a Mason Jar complete with fabric on top. Printed Label is simply tied on with twine.

My siblings and I have opted to not exchange gifts anymore, but instead do something small and thoughtful like make cookies or something else crafty and homemade.  With our holiday travel plans, it didn’t make sense to make cookies ahead only to have them start to go stale before I would see everyone several days later.  I also didn’t want to make a mess in my mother’s kitchen.  My solution?  Homemade cookie mix in a jar!  I liked this idea because it gives them the opportunity to make the cookies when they want.

I turned to pinterest for some inspiration and decided on Cranberry Winter Cookies.  The blogger that shared this was amazing, even giving you designed labels that were ready for printing.  Here is the original link which includes some other cookie ideas as well:

What you’ll need for the jar:

  • 1 Quart size Mason Jar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (nut free option: 1/2 cup rolled oats, rice crisp cereal or granola)


  1. Cranberry Winter Cookie Mix Layered in Mason Jar

    Cranberry Winter Cookie Mix Layered in Mason Jar

    Mix the flour, baking soda and salt together.  Carefully pour into jar.  For ease, roll a piece of wax paper for a simple funnel.  Lightly pack this down at the bottom with something flat that fits in the jar.  (We used the flat end of our turkey thermometer of all things!)

  2. Layer all the remaining ingredients in the jar in the order they are listed above.  You can pack these between layers also.  As you get to the chunkier layers towards the top, you can just smooth out each layer instead of packing.  Once all packed, it will look like this —>
  3. Print the Free Printable PDF file on card stock and cut out.  The original instructions showed how you can stick the labels to the jar with glue dots, but I modified the label to print front and back and tied it on with twine over some scrap fabric.
  4. Don’t forget to Enjoy!  I made a batch to try and they are amazing.  The instructions for the recipient to make the cookies is on the tag, but here you go – sooo good and sooo easy!

Making Cookies:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat together 1/2 cup softened butter, 1 egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract until fluffy.
  3. Add the entire jar of cookie mix, stirring until blended.
  4. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges start to brown.
  5. Cool on baking sheets or remove to cool on wire racks.  Makes approximately 18 cookies.
Cranberry Winter Cookies

Cranberry Winter Cookies = YUM!

When all was said and done, my husband (Ryan) and I spent less than 2 hours putting together 12 of these.  Plus, all the ingredients divided up left the cost of each complete jar around $6 or $7!   So as far as homemade gifts go, this is very easy and inexpensive.

I hope this gives you inspiration that warms your heart and kitchen for the holidays!  What solutions do you have for gift challenges?

Mary Sherwood Lake Living – Working with you to create your lifestyle at Lake Gaston and beyond!

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Happy Thanksgiving from MSLL – 2013

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From all of us here at Mary Sherwood Lake Living, we’d like to wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!


Give Thanks to the Host

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It’s getting to be that time of year again for lots of parties and get-togethers with family and friends.  While your Holiday shopping list is probably already a mile long, it’s important not to forget about your gracious host.  Here are a few gift ideas of different sizes and some impressive wrapping ideas that show off your attention to the details, no matter your budget!

A Small Gift with Big Wrapping Impact!

small gift of ginger cookies, pumpkin dip mix, and a decorative ornamentShare this small gift of Anna’s Ginger Thins cookies and pumpkin dip mix.  Top it off with a decorative  ornament for added detail.  It really shows that you’ve given it some thought and care.   The total cost of this gift is only about $12.

small gift cell wrap with tissue

Use cellophane with colorful tissue paper.  If you get a neutral cello, you can pair it with any color tissue for any occasion.  I usually use 3 layers of tissue to conceal what’s inside.  Start pulling it together by bringing up the points.  Then gather it all and secure with wired ribbon.  Wired ribbon holds tight so your hands are free to complete your package.

small gift bow making with ornament

Once secure with the ribbon, now you can make the bow.  Fold ribbon back and forth so that you have 3 loops on each side.  Tie it on the package in the middle.  Here, I’ve slid an ornament on the straight ribbon first, then tie it all in the middle.  Dress it up by weaving the ends in and out of your fingers for a graceful curve.

finished small gift

This classy gift shows you gave a lot of care in this gift, and it’s easy to have a few of these in cue for an unexpected get-together.









A Gift Basket That’s Cute and Fully Functional!

gift basketGift baskets are lovely, but what about using something creative as a vessel for the collection of gifts – like another gift!  If you’re doing a kitchen related gift, try using a mixing bowl.  Here I’m using a fun red colander, featuring gourmet words as the drain holes.  This “basket” will hold a bar cutting board, martini olives, a funny spatula, gourmet salt, dip mix, and cocktail napkins.  Total cost is ~$62.

gift basket in the round

It is important when you arrange the items in a gift basket, make sure you think about how it looks from all sides.

gift basket cello

Cello is helpful for combining oddly shaped items. Here I’ve used only the cello and no tissue to show off every treasure inside.

gift basket cello pull up

Cut the cello so that it’s long enough to cover and give you enough to fluff on top.  The cello isn’t actually wide enough for this, but to solve this use a single piece of tape to hold  the shorter sides.  Then you pull together your long sides and gather them on top.  This camouflages  the shorter pieces.  Secure with ribbon or decorative wire.

gift basket bow making

Here’s a review of the bow we did above, but with a different detail.  Instead of using ribbon to hold it all together, I used a few pieces of decorative wire.  Curl the extra ends around your finger for fun ringlets.

finished gift basket

Ta Da!  Here we have the whole thing pulled together, all compact in one beautiful package.










Lots of People Give Wine, but Don’t Forget About the Extra Glasses!

wine glasses in boxThese are Govino acrylic stemless wine glasses that feature a subtle indention that’s comfortable for your thumb.  They don’t break, they can be washed in the top of the dishwasher, and they are great for use year-round (especially on the boat).  Although in a basic box, I thought it would still be helpful to review how to wrap a box.


boxed gift wrap how to

This may seem basic, but here is a step by step tutorial on wrapping a box.
Plus, it’s only using 3 pieces of tape!
#1) Wrap paper around box and secure on the bottom with your 1st piece of tape.
If there’s a pattern to the paper, try to get the lines to match up.
The exact pattern meeting up is almost impossible, but what do you know – it happened here!
#2) Make sure that the extra paper on the sides goes down further than half, but not further than the height of the box.
#3) Crisply fold each side – crisp clean folds are key.
#4) Bring in the sides to meet in the middle, again making very crisp folds.
#5) Fold up the tip to give you a smooth edge.
#6) Lift up and secure with your 2nd piece of tape. Repeat on the other end using your 3rd piece of tape.



finished box gift wrap

Complete with a funky bow and you are all set to honor your host.


So there are some of the secrets to the phenomenal  gift wrap here at MSLL.  It’s complimentary with purchase, so the next time you are in need of a hostess gift, stop by for a personal demonstration!

Mary Sherwood Lake Living – Working with you to create your lifestyle at Lake Gaston and beyond!

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Budget Friendly Updates For Your Kitchen

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Do you have a dream kitchen, and I mean dream, as in you’re still dreaming?  I know I do.  It’s a hazard of working in this field.  I have my kitchen planned out to the tiniest detail, but my current budget is not so dreamy.  But there’s hope!  You can make small modifications that add up to big style to the kitchen you have.  This helps keep you feeling positive, at least until you finally achieve your goal.

Organize your kitchen

1) Re-organize and Clean – I know this seems like a minor detail, but it’s amazingly refreshing to have everything in it’s place.

Our very talented Chef Yvonne just posted on her blog some tips to organize your kitchen by zones and how often you use the items.  Check it out here:

Kitchen Organization Tools

2) Storage solutions – As an extension of the first suggestion, adding storage solutions can make a huge difference for how you use the space.  There are many options that can be fitted into your existing cabinets.  Watch the video here to really drool over some of the storage solutions out there:

3) Update Hardware – Swapping out your hardware can make a big difference.  And if you go with the same size, you won’t have to do any drilling.  Or, if you currently have all knobs, you can change to long pulls on all your doors just by drilling one more hole.  This requires a steady hand and precise measurements, but can be done on any budget.

Painted accents in Kitchen


4) Paint – A little paint goes a long way.  Yes, you can paint all the walls and cabinets, but you’d be surprised how a small change can add some pizzazz.  Try just painting the island.  Or pick a few select cabinets to feature and paint them.  You could also take the doors off a few and just paint the inside for display space.






Update Kitchen Back Splash

5) Back Splash – Tile is available in a variety of sizes, colors, materials and prices.  If you don’t have a full back splash and want it done for even less, you could also use this opportunity to paint something really creative.  Just make sure you use a semi-gloss paint – it will hold up well to cooking messes and clean-up.  You could paint a pattern or an overall texture.




Colorful Accent Lighting in the Kitchen

6) Lighting – Adding lighting always makes a huge impact, especially by making your work spaces more visible and functional.  You can also simply swap out the accent lighting for something more eye-catching.




7) Window Treatments – Brighten up your source of natural light with a new window treatment.  You can add softness with a fabric treatment.  A small valence can do just the trick and takes very little fabric, so very budget friendly.  If you need to control the sun, a shading product of some kind would do the trick.  Or you could do both and hide the shade when it’s rolled up.

Accessorize your Kitchen with Color

8) Accessories – Like jewelry putting the finishing touches on your favorite outfit, try new accessories in your kitchen.  If you have a neutral kitchen, experiment with a new color in your accents.  A little flair goes a long way.


I’m planning to use some of these suggestions in my own kitchen.  Stay posted for Part II of Budget Friendly Updates for Your Kitchen when I share what I come up with.



Need more ideas to update your kitchen?  We’d love to help – give us the challenge!


Mary Sherwood Lake Living – working with you to create your lifestyle!


Delicious New Cloister Honey

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These new honeys are just soooo good I have to share them.  The whipped cinnamon honey is my favorite, but the ghost pepper is a close second for me (starts our sweet and then has an unexpected peppery kick at the end).  For Dixie, she’s all about the Bourbon Honey (great as a glaze on salmon or pork chops).  Try them to pick your own fave!

Cloister Honey

Cloister Honey

Here are some creative ways to incorporate some of these into your dishes:

Cloister Whipped Honey with Cinnamon

Cloister Whipped Honey with Cinnamon

Whipped Cinnamon Honey: Smooth Madagascar Cinnamon creates a spread willing to take maple syrup on in a head to head battle for breakfast.

– Spread on your morning biscuit, toasted English Muffin and afternoon snack of apples and bananas.

– Use instead of syrup on French toast, pancakes, and waffles.

– Create a quick Chai-inspired drink by adding it to your favorite tea of coffee.

-Serve with baked sweet potatoes or as an added topping to fruit pies, cobblers, and vanilla ice cream.


Cloister Arbol Pepper Infused Honey

Cloister Arbol Pepper Infused Honey

Arbol Chili Pepper Honey:  This tasty infusion brings the pleasure of combined heat and sweet to every dish.

– Brush on grilled Seafood (shrimp, scallops) when removed from the heat.

-Spice up barbeque sauce by adding 1/4 cup to your personal favorite.

-Create a delicious salad dressing: 2 Tbsp Infused Arbol Pepper Hone, 2 tsp soy sauce, 1 Tbsp sesame oil (optional), and 1/4 cup vegetable oil.  Toss with greens, grilled chicken and Asian noodles.


Mary Sherwood Lake Living – working with you to create your lifestyle in your Lake Gaston Kitchen and Beyond!

Categories : Cooking, Ramblings
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Table to Ottoman Transformation

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Ottomans are great accent pieces in almost any design.  But sometimes finding just the right style and size is challenging.  Here’s how you can transform a table into an ottoman for a completely custom look.

table to be transformed into an ottoman

Before: Kidney shaped table to be transformed into an ottoman

We were on the search for a specific sized ottoman for a living space with little to no luck.  Then we took a look around our own showroom and found this great shaped table that was the perfect size!  With a little work and creativity, this would fit just right.




Table to ottoman foam template

Create a Template of the table top approximately 1/2″ bigger on all sides for the foam.

1) Create a template of the table top approximately 1/2″ bigger on all sides.  This is for the foam.  You want the foam cut larger than the top so that as you pull it tight, it will actually cover the hard edge of the table.  Cutting thick foam can be difficult.  For good results, you can actually use an electric carving knife like you’d use for your Thanksgiving turkey.  Instead, I asked our upholsterer to cut it for me.  You will also use the template for the top fabric.  The 1/2″ will go towards the seam allowance.

Ottoman Tufting Instructions

Tufting Layout – Drill through template

2) Tufting Prep (optional)  If you’d like buttons for a tufted look, map out where you’d like them on your template, tape the template to the top, and drill completely through the paper and the table top.

For the last step after you’ve completed the ottoman, use several layers of thick thread through a button that will hide on the bottom (I used black to hide under the table).  Use a long, thick needle loaded with your thread, insert it up through the hole you drilled, and bring it up through the foam and fabric.  Then just thread it through your decorative button on the top and tie tight.  Note: It helps to have an assistant (thank you to my hubby, Ryan) push down on the top so you have room to tie the button around the loft of the foam.

Covering Table Ottoman Top

Table covered with Ottoman Top – Foam and Fabric

Step 3: To make the fabric top, use the template you already created to cut the top fabric.  I made a contrast welt, which is optional, but helps to give a tailored look.  For the sides, you want to make them much larger then the end product to give you something to grab onto.  I used 3″ thick foam and the table top was approx. 3/4″ thick, plus you need to remember your 1/2″ seam allowance.  I made my side bands 10″ wide – better too big than not big enough!

Step 4:  Put the foam inside the fabric first before putting it on the table top.  You’ll find it’s very tight because the foam is cut larger than the top.  Just keep adjusting it until it’s just right.  I find it’s best to work from the middle out to get it even on all sides.  The fabric will then hold the foam in place when you put it on top.

Ottoman construction

Ottoman Construction – Pull tight and smooth, staple, cut off excess, and cover rough edge with gimp

Step 5:  Staple – Now is the part where it actually starts to take shape.  Starting in the middle, pull the fabric tight in approx. 4″ sections and staple.  As you move around, make sure you compare what you’ve done so that it has uniform tightness and no bulges.  You may need to use a tack hammer to drive the staples in all the way depending on the density of the wood.  The excess fabric also helps to protect the legs in case you slip with the stapler or hammer.

Step 6: Trim off excess fabric within 1/4″ of the staples.  Cover rough edge and staples with gimp (a flat decorative trim)

Now is the time you would add the buttons for tufting if you’d like.

Table Ottoman Transformation

After: Completed Table-Ottoman Transformation

Here’s the finished piece in the client’s home.  It has the soft ottoman top, storage space below, and a unique soft shape that is comfortable to move around in the room.

How could you use these tips to solve a design challenge?  Or how can we help?  Let us know in the comments below.

Mary Sherwood Lake Living – working with you to create your lifestyle on Lake Gaston and Beyond!

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When it came to kitchen and bath design, it used to be that you picked your hardware and plumbing fixture finishes based on the style you were going for.  If you were trying to achieve a more contemporary or transitional look, you instantly went for the brushed nickel or chrome.  If you wanted a more traditional feel, you would be more likely to have chosen a brass or oil rubbed bronze finish.  Not true anymore!

Here are some examples of how you can pick the same finish for two completely different looks with successful results. 

Brushed Nickel

Brushed Nickel has been and still is very popular. It’s timelessness works great in traditional, contemporary and transitional design.


Chrome often has the reputation of being contemporary for how well it works in crisp, clean modern designs.  However, it can work nicely in traditional details as well.  Check out the chrome turned legs on this classic white vanity.

Oil Rubbed Bronze

Oil rubbed bronze works beautifully with stained cabinetry.  But, look at how it adds contrast to this mostly white kitchen.

Gold or Brass

It’s back!  Gold or Brass finishes are the latest trend we are seeing in the plumbing industries.  Often seen in more traditional design, we’re now seeing it incorporated in very sleek and industrial faucets.


To make things even more fun (or challenging, depending on your view), you can even mix and match finishes.  It’s nice to combine two and spread it between you faucet, hardware, appliances, or sink.

How did you select your finishes?  Need help picking?  We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.


Mary Sherwood Lake Living – working with you to create your lifestyle on Lake Gaston and Beyond!

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Elements of a Kid’s Work Space

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With school just around the corner, back to school shopping season is upon us. But we also must consider “back to homework” season as well.  Are you ready? Here are some things to think about when creating the ideal space to encourage young students at home.

kids-deskThis Chair is just right! – There are lots of different options when it comes to children’s desk seating.  The most important thing is that it fits them so they can easily get in and out on their own.  This is a fun way to get the kiddos involved in designing their personal space.  Take them out to play Goldilocks to find just the right chair or stool.

Clean Slate – Make sure the work surface is smooth and easy to clean.  Messes and stains are inevitable, so it’s a good idea to have extra paint that matches the desk to start fresh.  Or, if you’re not too stressed out by messy scribbles, it’s kinda fun to leave the sketches as memories.  Visiting my parents recently, I saw my old desk with doodles and spilled nail polish!

Everything in its place – Organization is the key to a functional work space, no matter what the age.  Every tool needs a place to live.  Craft paper could be stashed in a drawer or on a roll.  Writing utensils should be easily accessible in cups or bins.  Different colored notebooks help designate different subjects and topics.  Backpacks should be hung rather than in a heap on the floor.

up-against-the-wall-paper-holderKids organized wall







kids-art-gallery-wallShow it off! – Inspiration is key to creativity and constructive work time. Create a space to display messages and pictures that encourage positivity.  Include plenty of space for projects your kids are proud of.  Chalkboards or dry erase boards are also fun additions.

Life gets so chaotic  during the school year. With all the after-school activities and social events, you don’t want homework to be an afterthought.  With an inspiring space to concentrate, maybe, just maybe, it will make things move more smoothly.

Mary Sherwood Lake Living – working with you to create your lifestyle!

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Wall Flower Art

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DSCF2500croppedLast year for the 4th of July, we posted a blog showing you how to make your own patriotic pom-poms.  Click here if you missed it or would like a refresher. 

With summer guests coming soon, I decided to reinvent this idea for some unique art for my guest room.  They’re simple enough you could even get the kids to help.

Here are the supplies I used for my application, but you may want to change it up depending on what size canvas you use or how full you’d like your wall flowers to be.


Tissue Paper – color(s) of your choosing (4 sheets folded for each color: Yellow, Orange, and Bright Pink)

Green Tissue Paper (1 sheet folded for each color)

8″x10″ artist canvases (I used a total of 8)

Green Craft Paint

Thick Thread

Assorted Buttons


DSCF2479croppedI marked the center of the canvas about 3 1/2″ down from the top with a pencil.  Paint a simple green curved line on your canvas starting at the mark you made and end it at the bottom of the canvas.  I added one small leaf for a little more life.  Make sure it’s dry before you start to work with it.




DSCF2478Stack one sheet of green (folded for 2 layers) with 4 sheets of a bright color (folded for 8 layers).  There will be a total of 10 layers.  Fan fold the stack back and forth with approximately 1/2 inch folds.  I folded it 11 times giving me 6 “V’s” with the green on the outside and cut off the excess.



DSCF2482Then I cut my fan into 3 sections approximately 3 1/2 inches long.  I was able to make 3 flowers at once.

Tie the middle of your 3 1/2″ fan with thick thread and a button.  Make thread long enough to thread through a needle and work with.  You can always cut off the extra, but it’s better to have too much than not enough.


DSCF2483Thread the  thread through your canvas at the top of your line.  Thread it through a button and tie a knot.






DSCF2484Here’s what you have so far.  Now you’re ready to fluff!

Take hold of each layer of tissue paper at the corner and pull towards you gently, making your way around the half circle.  Repeat with each layer on one side, then do the other side.  You’ll end up with a fluff ball.  You may need to squish/fluff the ball some to see the button better.



Here’s is the finished look!

I already had the shelf above the bed, but it just wasn’t enough.  Adding the wall flowers completed the focal point, mixing 2D and 3D art.

I think I’m ready for our guests.  Mary, Dixie and I will be heading to market this week, so I won’t actually be able to play hostess, but hopefully my hubby (Ryan), the pups (Oscar and Olive) and these wall flowers will make them feel welcome!


Mary Sherwood Lake Living – working with you to create your lifestyle!

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Do You Have What It Takes to DIY?

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Some think “Doing It Yourself” is the key to doing home improvements on a budget and saving money.  This can be true, depending on the nature of the project, but you need to factor in the unexpected.  If something goes wrong and you need to hire a professional to fix it, you may spend more than if you’d hired them in the first place.  Here are some other surprises you should consider:

DSCF2348 cropped

Muscular Arms – DIY has the benefit of being a great workout!  However, if you’re looking for a lean and toned physique, you may end up more buff and brawny.  But Hey – You’ll be able to hold you’re own in a fight!


Aches, Scuffs and Bruises – You could end up looking like you’ve already been in a fight – hopefully you won!  Bruised knees and shins, callused and scraped hands, and muscle and joint pains are common symptoms of DIY-itis.  And forget keeping a manicure in shape for longer than two seconds.


DSCF2342 croppedSpecial Wardrobe – Forget “Business Casual”, “Active-wear”, and “Sunday Best”.  Introducing DIY Chique!  Every year, my husband and I have a fun/crazy tradition of having a craft paint war in our back yard.  We get covered in paint – head to toe.  Believe it or not – these are not my paint war clothes!  When I DIY, I have a paint war with myself!


Quality Time vs. DIY Time – Of course you have your work time, but there is often even more time involved in research and acquiring your materials that have to be factored in.  What could you be doing instead?  For me, projects are done in my “free time” (Ha! What’s that?) that could have been spent playing with my adorable pups – Oscar and Olive.  Luckily they keep each other entertained, but I still see how excited they get when I finally take a break.

102_FUJI1 Oscar and Olive

Sense of Accomplishment – I can’t talk about this topic without ending on a positive.  The whole point of DIY is getting to say “I DID IT!”  After all the sweat, aches, time, oops-es and countless trips for supplies, you finally get to sit back and enjoy your hard work.  If you don’t get this feeling of satisfaction, something must be wrong and you should reconsider asking for a little help next time.

So what was my most recent project?  Installing this vinyl checker-board floor in my own DIY haven.  Forget the “Man Cave” – I have my own “Lady’s Lair”!



There are certainly ways to bridge the gap by consulting with a designer or contractor for advise and direction while doing the labor yourself.  Or you may want to sit back with a glass of sun tea and watch the magic happen.  You can tell yourself you DIY-ed picking up the phone and calling the professionals!

What projects have you wondering about DIY?  Maybe we can help open your eyes to what you can expect along the road.  Tell us in the comments below!


Mary Sherwood Lake Living – working with you to create your lifestyle!

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Steps to Picking an Area Rug

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Choosing the right rug for your home requires planning. The choices are virtually endless when it comes to selection.  A rug is a functional part of a room and has many jobs.

3 main benefits to area rugs:

~ style and character of a room, an inspiration for the rest of your space

~ provide comfort and traction under foot

~absorb and reduce noise. If your room has a slight echo, an area rug is a wonderful solution.

  round, entryway, rug, colorful

Proper measuring:

~ Carefully measure your floor space and large furniture items and take these measurements with you.

~ Pay attention to the measurements of rugs as they are typically displayed hanging vertically, stacked a few feet high on the floor, or rolled up and can appear to be a different size than they really are.

~Dimensions will vary by up to 5% from rug to rug, almost always in the length. Also note that fringe may or may not be factored into the overall size of the rug.

colorful, bright, rug

Making Color Decisions:

~ If at all possible, it’s helpful to begin your decorating plan with an area rug first.  There are usually more flexible options to pick fabrics and limitless paint colors that can be selected after the rug.

~ If needing to work with existing elements in the space, bring paint chips, fabrics or even a sofa pillow with you when viewing rugs in person.

~ If you’re shopping online or from a catalog, check the company’s return and exchange policy, then order your favorite rug designs in the smallest available sizes. Then you can judge color in person, and then easily exchange the rug for a larger size.

outdoor, rug, durable, colorspree

Rug Durability:

~  Consider the amount of traffic the rug will see in the area.  High traffic areas include hallways, family room and entryway.  Medium traffic areas include the dining room and home office.   Low traffic areas include bedrooms and formal living room.  Reference the rug construction section to understand the longevity of different rugs in different traffic areas.

~  Rug pads extend the life of your rug, protect the floor underneath, add additional comfort and softness to your rug, and keep your small rugs in place. Protect children, seniors and yourself from accidental falls

weave, loop, rugRug Construction:

Flat Weave – woven on a loom with fibers threaded back and forth across the warp to create a flat weave similar to a blanket or tapestry.  They can hold up well in medium traffic areas and 20+ years in low traffic areas.  Note: Flat weave rugs can bunch and creep so they don’t always lay flat.  Rug pads are recommended, but don’t always solve this issue.

Loop Pile  – made by pushing loops of yarn through a canvas foundation to the front of the rug, then pulling the ends of the yarn back to create a loop on the surface.  Loops can be all the same height or they can be varied for a pattern.  Loop Pile is ideal for high traffic areas and many indoor/outdoor options are also available.

Cut Pile – the same basic construction as the loop pile, but instead of leaving loops the pile is cut for a plush textured feel.  Depending on the denseness of the weave and the material used, cut pile rugs can hold up for 5-15+ years in high traffic areas and even longer in less used walkways in your home.

You can also combine techniques for a mix of loop and cut pile.


Still have questions?  Let us help you make the right rug decision for your space.

Mary Sherwood Lake Living – working with you to create your lifestyle!

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Memorial Day Weekend is fast approaching, along with many occasions to welcome house guests.  Are you ready?  Here are tips to make your guest room a welcome retreat.  And they’re easy – some can be done in advance and some can be done in a pinch.

BedPillowsPillows and Blankets – This may seem like a no-brainer, but be sure to have plenty of blankets of different weights.  You never know how cold or hot your guest may be, so give them options.  Pillow options are appreciated also.  While you’re at it, toss the pillow inserts in the dryer for a few minutes with a dryer sheet to add fluff and a fresh scent.

Robe and/or Slippers – This is especially nice when your guest bath isn’t adjoining the guest bedroom.  Even a few steps out in the hall can be an awkward jump if you forgot something in your suitcase.  This touch will remind your guests of a resort.  Make it even cushier with fluffy slippers!

Guest Room Tray, Mary Sherwood Lake Living, Lake Gaston, Guest Room Details, Guest Prep

“Welcome Center”

Desk/Writing Space – Although it seems so many of us primarily use our smart phones and other devises to communicate, a hand written note or card from a vacation is a classic touch.  Include a small space complete with stationary, pens/pencils, and postage.  If you don’t have room for a desk, reserve a space on a night stand/dresser/tray for your “Welcome Center” (see picture).

Water Glasses and Pitcher – This is another nice touch for the “Welcome Center”.  Give your guests this convenience so they don’t have to stumble around your kitchen in the middle of the night for a glass of water.  Especially nice if they take medications.  Depending on your space, a Coffee Bar is also very appreciate.

Personal Touches – Send the perfect message with fresh-cut flowers.  They say “Welcome”, “Good Morning”, and “Thank You!” all at once.  This soft touch really makes a stay memorable.  Books can be a nice addition.  Think about the guests and what might interest them.  I like including classic children’s books – works for kids and the young at heart.  And don’t forget the very personal items, back-up toiletry items.  It’s nice to have a toothbrush, hand lotion, etc. just in case.

luggage rackSpace for Luggage – Finally, baggage (whether physical or emotional) always come with guests.  Guest rooms are often the catch-all space for things you don’t use that often or just don’t have a better home.  Be careful not to consume too much storage space.  Leave a few drawers empty for your guests (complete with a scented sachet) and space in the closet for hanging.  And don’t forget the bags – a folding luggage rack takes little space and is a valuable luxury instead of having to hunch over your suitcase on the floor.

~Think about your favorite vacations and what made them special.  You can recreate those memories in your guest room with these tips.  You may love it so much, you can be a guest in your own home!

Mary Sherwood Lake Living – working with you to create your lifestyle!


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It’s that time of year again… We’re heading to High Point for the Spring Furniture Market to scout for the latest trends in home fashion.  One of my favorites is seeing the new colors, textures and prints of the textiles applied to new and interesting furniture frames.

Can’t wait for the new?  Here are some of our October finds.

Our search begins here…

High Point Furniture Market, Mary Sherwood Lake Living

What will we find…

Company C, High Point Furniture Market, Mary Sherwood Lake Living

 Company C is always the hot spot for new color!!!

High Point Market, Braxton Culler, Libby Langdon, Mary Sherwood Lake Living

 Libby Langdon’s furniture line at Braxton Culler showroom was a great find!

Four Seasons Furniture, High Point Market, Mary Sherwood Lake Living

 Four Seasons, our comfy slipcover line, showed off  bigger scale seating.

Global Views, High Point Furniture Market, Mary Sherwood Lake Living

Global Views is one of the best merchandised showrooms at market-full of fabulous accessories.

Your market team will report it’s finds!

Mary, Autumn and Michelle- to market, to market we go!

Mary Sherwood Lake Living – working with you to create your lifestyle!

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10 Tips for Painting Great Furniture

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Lake Gaston, Furniture Painting tips, Mary Sherwood Lake Living, Teal Chest, Turquoise Chest

Revive Unwanted Furniture with these Great Tips!



– Remove hardware.  You may need to make note of which drawer they came off of.  If you’re replacing the hardware, be ware that some knobs leave indentations that you’ll want to cover up with the new knobs.

– Take out drawers and label them (on the inside with painter’s tape) for their locations.  Drawers often fit perfect in a specific slot.  Skipping this step will cost you time in guessing and possibly touching up paint.

– Lightly sand all surfaces to be painted, whether you are working with new or old pieces.  Any oil or dirt on the surface will prevent the paint from adhering.  Brand new pieces usually have a protective coat that seals the finish, which also prevents new paint from bonding properly.  Wipe clean.

– Think about how you plan to use the furniture when selecting paint finish.  While we often use satin or eggshell on interior walls, they usually scuff easier and show dirt more on regularly used pieces.  I usually use semi-gloss on furniture because it’s easy to clean and hold up really well.  You can also use a high gloss for a sleek, contemporary look.


– Make sure to brush the same direction as the wood grain. This helps disguise brushstrokes.

– Paint brushes: I love using angled brushes because they are easy to work into crevices, around curves, and they are great for cutting in close and even.  I use angled brushes for everything.  I used the same 2 in angled brush for this whole chest, even the detailed touch-up after removing the tape.

– Painters tape is a great resource when painting a very flat and even surface.  For this particular project, I still needed to touch up after tape removal.  It may not have adhered evenly because of the texture of the wood.  Either way, it’s helpful to start off with so you can do a few coats without getting everywhere if you’re not very steady.  Then you just have to be careful once when you touch up.  When using tape, paint along the tape or away from the tape, never towards the edge.  If you do, you could be shoving paint under.

– Priming can be an important step for a uniform, smooth finish.  However, it may not be necessary depending on the desired outcome.  This chest has a beautiful deep wood-grain texture that I wanted to make sure was still visible through the new paint.  The more coats of paint, the more texture of the piece gets covered up.  Also, the original dark finish may be just what you need if you wanted to do any distressing.

Finishing Touches

– Finish the top with polyurethane or spray clear coat.  This will help protect from scuffs or spills.  You can finish the entire piece if you prefer, depending on how much activity it will see.

– Replace hardware or put a fresh coat of paint on the old.  Spray paint works great, but it’s very important to use a primer to make sure the finish adheres properly and evenly.


*Stay posted for a future blog post showing this chest in a recent project.  We’ll take a neutral lower level bedroom and transform it into cheerful space to wake up in.

What could use some new life around your home?  It’s amazing what you can accomplish with a quart of paint.


Mary Sherwood Lake Living – working with you to create your lifestyle!

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Ever ask yourself where something is in your kitchen?  What you should be asking is “Where should it be?”.

Here’s a video that demonstrates some great organization tools, but also discusses the thought that should go into kitchen work areas.

Every cook is different, so there are many different ways to organize a kitchen.  “What do you use most?” and “Where are you going to use it?” are key questions to ask when organizing your space.

Tools like roll-out trays are wonderful anywhere in the kitchen but can also be very valuable in laundry rooms or bathrooms.  What about the pull-out spice cabinet in a vanity space for your make-up bottles and hairspray.  Be creative for the most rewarding results.

How could you use some help in the organization department?

Thanks! – Autumn


Mary Sherwood Lake Living – working with you to create your lifestyle!

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Hope Filled Handbags for Fashion

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MSLL Spring Fashion Show and

Hope Filled Handbag Event

Thursday, March 28th, 6-8 PM

Hope filled handbags, women's benefit ideas, women's shelter donation

We had an amazing response to our last event to benefit Hannah’s Place!
Let’s see if we can get even more!

Donation Admission:

“Nearly New” Handbags  and/or Toiletry Items

See the latest styles of casual fashion, shoes and accessories.  Help us support this great cause.  “Nearly New” Handbags will be filled with personal toiletry items and donated to Hannah’s Place, Inc., a non-profit women’s shelter in Roanoke Rapids.  Look below for lists of needed toiletries.

If you cannot attend the event, donations may be dropped off before April 11th, 2013.

Toiletry  needs for Hannah’s Place:

Sanitary napkins
Shower Cap

Cash Donations Also Accepted

Thank you for all your help – there’s no donation too small.

We’d love to hear your comments and questions about this wonderful cause, so leave a message below.

Mary Sherwood Lake Living – working with you to create your lifestyle!

Categories : Showroom, Special Events
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A Breath of Spring

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With spring just around the corner we are all ready to dust off the cobwebs and let some sunshine into our homes.   Try freshening up your space with accessories that can be swapped out for different seasons.

fall accessories, owl welcome sign, seasonal design, mary sherwood lake living


In these two photos we used the same soft, moss green Company C sofa. (Yes, even green can act as a neutral backdrop.)  Here is a collection of orange and red pillows, an area rug, and accessories that give you a feeling of warmth and comfort.  But don’t forget an element of fun like the funky owl.



spring accessories, bright, fun, ice cream pillow, seasonal decor, mary sherwood lake living


Now watch as we take the same green sofa and liven it up with a Spring-inspired arrangement.  The chevron design of this geometric rug is really in keeping with the trend this year and sets the color pallet.  We’ve added a bit of whimsy with the ice cream cone pillow and the joyful pink flower.  Also, remember that you can swap out your family pictures seasonally.  What a great time to pull out the pictures of the little ones at an Easter egg hunt!


You may have everything you need in your home to make the seasonal swap.  Try pieces you may not have used in a while.  Clear glass jars can be filled with colorful items like beads, buttons, ribbons, marbles, and even Easter eggs for spring.  Candles can be another inexpensive boost of color.  Trade accessories from one room to another.  A small vase makes a great toothbrush holder!  A mug can become a flower pot.  The possibilities are limitless!


Mary Sherwood Lake Living…working with you to create your lifestyle!

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Having trouble deciding on a color scheme for your home?  Try looking in your closet!  Everyone has their favorite colors to wear, so why not surround yourself with them to make you really glow.

Note: These fashion examples are in theme with the current red carpet season. Even if not dressing for a formal occasion, we can still work it.  Your hallway can feel like a fashion runway when you are confident in your signature color.


Emerald Green is the Pantone Color of the Year for 2013, so why not bathe your bathroom in this invigorating hue



Red has the wonderful power of energy. So what better place than your work space. Keep yourself alert and energized and look fabulous doing it


Does blue bring out the color in your eyes? Imagine the glow they would have while enjoying a candle-lit dinner in this dining room


Not everyone looks good in yellow, but those who do really shine! Surround yourself with this radiant color to bring out your cheerful personality


Of course you can never go wrong with an elegant black dress, so why not slip your home into something timeless and classic.

 No matter your signature color, your home should reflect your style and personality.

What is your color and how can you use it in your space?



Mary Sherwood Lake Living…working with you to create your lifestyle!

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An Appetizer to Impress

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Wasabi Tuna Stack

Throughout the year, we host many special events and serve mouth-watering gourmet appetizers. Here’s one of our favorite recipes by Chef Yvonne to tantalize your taste buds.  Impress your guests.  It’s easy, beautiful and oh so good!


Wasabi Tuna Stack Recipe


Wonton Wrappers, one package

1 bag Slaw Mix

½ cup Mayo And Wasabi Mayo

1 Tbsp White Vinegar

1 Tbsp Sugar

2 Tbsp Yellow Mustard

Salt And Freshly Ground Pepper


Sunflower Seeds

Salt And Fresh Ground Pepper

Thai Sweet Chili Sauce


1) Three options for preparing wontons:

Fry wonton wrappers in ½ inch of veg. oil or another high heat oil of choice.

Bake on cookie sheet sprayed with oil, put wrappers down and spray top, bake 350 degrees for about 10 minutes (you need to watch).

Bake wrappers same as above but fit then into mini muffin tins.

These will keep for a week or so in a zip lock bag.

2) Mix slaw mix, both mayo and wasabi mayo, vinegar, sugar, and mustard in a bowl. Taste and season if needed. If it needs to be wetter add more of the mayo or whatever taste you want to add.  Refrigerate until ready to use it, will keep for about 4 days.

3) Salt and pepper tuna, coat with sesame seeds. Get a regular fry pan very hot and cook about 1 minute per side. Brown the sesame a little, the center of tuna should still be pink unless you want it cooked more. Put in refrigerator and let it get cold. Cut into thin strips.  You can do this a couple days a head.

Constructing the dish – Put one wanton on dish, top with slaw, two slices tuna, top with sweet Thai chili sauce. Continue to another layer for a larger portion.

Recipe by Chef Yvonne


Mary Sherwood Lake Living…working with you to create your lifestyle!

Categories : Cooking
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Design Wisdom WednesdayColor is a beautiful thing but works best with a delicate balance of neutrals to really make them shine.  Here are some examples of how color can be used in different magnitudes.


For those who want to add color but don’t know where to start – begin with a few accents to add life to your blank canvas.  They will really pop in contrast.  Plus it gives you the chance to test how much you like it without making a long-term commitment.

Lake Gaston, color design, Mary Sherwood Lake Living

Splashes of light turquoise in an overall tan room add just the punch this space needed. But they can easily be traded out when tastes change.

For those who love every color in the Crayola box, remember to use solid neutrals to ground the space.

Bright Design, Mary Sherwood Lake Living, Lake Gaston

Crisp white trim, black cocktail table and warm wood cabinetry and floor really make all the color POP!

Bright Design, Mary Sherwood Lake Living, Lake Gaston

The gray/brown background of this rug makes the butterflies even more lively!








How do you like to use color?  Tell us in your comments below.


Mary Sherwood Lake Living… working with you to create your lifestyle!

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Design Wisdom WednesdayLess is so much more than you think.  Here’s a link to an article that explains the benefits in greater detail, even going on to discuss the emotional toll clutter can have on you.  Why Clutter Matters and Decluttering is Difficult   One main benefit in terms of design is that you can see and enjoy what you have out on display better when there’s not a lot to distract you.

Here is a perfect example (and I am the guilty party).  The items on these shelves bring to mind fond memories, but who can think with so much fighting for your attention.  Warning: We’re a couple of big kids who love scary movies, so don’t be too shocked by some of the silly things we have on display.


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(1) Clear everything and do a deep clean.

(2) Touch up paint if needed.  I painted the back of the shelves to give a strong backdrop that helps items stand out.

(3) Sort what is going to be stored on the shelves – does it really need to be stored here?  Will you ever read that book again?

(4) Sort Again!  Be brutally honest.  Ryan (my husband) and I made lists – a GONE and a KEEP list.  If we both agreed to get rid of it, it was gone.  If either insisted it stay, it was a keep.  Anything else was flexible, but remember the whole point is to declutter.


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Don’t get too swept up in memory lane and don’t get your feelings hurt.  Using this to start off with and only a few additions, we were able to cut the clutter by more than half.  Plus, it inspired us to work on the whole room.


Next stop: the guest room/ catch-all room – AAAHHHH!  That may be too gruesome to show.


Mary Sherwood Lake Living working with you to create your lifestyle!

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Ever long for an amazing closet like Carrie’s from Sex and the City?  Although it is meticulously designed and organized, a “Big” part of the appeal is the use of lighting.

Carrie's Closet from "Sex and the City"

In the world of lighting, under cabinet lighting in kitchens have come a long way, baby!  Many different options have been introduced over the last 30 years. It started with cool, “grayish” fluorescent lighting which provided illumination but did not enhance the color of food.  Halogen and Zenon lighting became the next lighting of choice. These bright “white” lights make colors pop and culinary creations sparkle. One detriment to their use is the heat gain and the replacement cost of the bulbs.  Both problems have been solved with the innovation of LEDs, but why limit its use to the kitchen?  Here are some unique applications we found at the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) this past week in Chicago.

Lighted Drawers turn on/off when opened/closed - Great to see all the way in the back

Lights behind doors turn on/off when opened/closed - Pick black, navy, or dark brown right the first time!












Lighting focused on each shelf highlights your fabulous shoe collection

Or LED lights within glass shelves illuminate your handbag collection from all angles











Want to shed some light on your own wardrobe?

We’d love to hear about it.

Categories : Design
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This is Dedicated to the Friends We Love

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Here at MSLL, we are very dedicated to creating an experience for our customers.  Customer service is top priority.  When I am out and about on my personal time, I have gotten very aware of how I am treated as a customer and how the employees feel about the workplace.  It goes without saying that I have encountered several situations that are in need of improvement, both in service and morale.  I am so thankful for the privilege of working in an environment where the customers make it so easy for me serve them with a smile.

For those of you who don’t know, I love oldies music from the 50’s and 60’s. Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong decade.  As we prepare to head off to the Kitchen and Bath Show in Chicago and the Furniture Market in Highpoint, I have adapted these lyrics dedicated to the customers we love.   To hear the original by the Shirelles, click the link here: 02 Dedicated to the One I Love

  • While we’re far away from you, MSLL friends
  • We’re working hard for you ’til the day’s end
  • Exploring art and the latest furniture trends
  • For your Lake Gaston home and beyond.
  • While we’re far away from you, MSLL friends
  • You don’t need to wait until our trip’s end.
  • Paul is there at the shop to always lend a hand,
  • but you may have to do your own gift wrap.
  • Your home can be exactly like you want it to be
  • and we won’t be satisfied until you’re happy
  • If there is something you want us to do especially for you
  • We’ll design it to fit all your needs.
  • So while we’re away from you, MSLL friends
  • Whisper a little prayer for us, MSLL friends
  • as we’re traveling home to
  • to the dedicated customers we love
  • This is dedicated to the friends we love.

Lyrics adapted from “Dedicated to the One I Love” by the Shirelles

Categories : Ramblings
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blackberry, cell phone loveLittle by little, we are getting more advanced in our communication.  First we set up our Mary Sherwood Lake Living E-newsletters.  Then we expanded onto Facebook, Twitter and Linked In.  And as you can see, we also dove into the great world of blogging with Lake Living Lifestyles.  Last night, I finally stepped into the world of smartphones.  I now have a Blackberry (crackberry?) so now both Mary and I can be available wherever we go(do we really want to be that available?).  But with all the advances in technology today, you would think this would have been an easy process.

Around 6:30 Monday night, my husband Ryan and I entered the Verizon store to scout out new phones and what services were available.  As we have both only had phones for making calls and basic texting, we needed a lot of education.  I was hoping to get a smart phone of some kind where Ryan really only needed the talk and text functions.  Thanks to a very kind saleswoman, who explained everything in the most basic layman’s terms, we figured out our phones and plan within 15 minutes, both upgrading to Blackberries.  Unfortunately, that’s where things got more complicated.  Since we have been married, we have never switched off our family’s plans.  We attempted to make the switch last night at the store.  To make a long story short, we didn’t leave the Verizon store until 9:00 pm (even though they closed at 8:00) and still had to call customer service the next day to get it all straightened out.

Now that it’s all said and done, it was well worth it.  Ryan, who swore he didn’t need it, was the first to send emails from his phone. (He emailed me from Walmart to ask me about our grocery list while I was at work.)  I am now set up to do Facebook on the go and I’m still going through the instructional booklet.  Who knows what else I’ll find!

Mary and I are really excited about our upcoming trips to the Kitchen and Bath Show in Chicago (April 16 & 17)  and the Highpoint Furniture Market (April 18 – 20).  We will be exposed to the newest appliances, fixtures, furniture designs and accessories.  We’re giving you the opportunity to get our first hand impressions as they happen.  Check us out on Facebook and Twitter to see all the fabulous new design options we are discovering. See something you like, share with your friends.  Tweet about us!  Facebook us!

Don’t be a stranger while we are gone.  Stop in to keep Paul company.  Sorry if you have to do your own giftwrap. 🙂  See you upon our return to beautiful Lake Gaston.

Working with you to create your lifestyle!

Categories : Ramblings
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Tetris Kitchen Design

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tetris blocks, kitchen blocksKitchen Design, Cabinet Layout

After going cross-eyed from working on a kitchen design, I have decided it is time for me to finally take my turn at this thing called blogging.  In an earlier blog post, Mary told you the kinds of questions we ask when tackling a kitchen project.  I thought I would share how an unlikely childhood activity gave me practice on how to process these answers to create a kitchen design.

Have you seen the recent outbreak of gamers clicking away at their handheld game systems?  People young and old are playing on their phones, their PSP’s, their Nintendo DS’s, and an array of other devises.  And they are playing everywhere, like in waiting rooms, on trains, waiting in line at the grocery store, anywhere there isn’t anything better to do.

This phenomenon has been evolving for decades.  When I was a kid, I got my brother’s hand-me-down gameboy with a collection of games to choose from.  The main game I latched onto was Tetris.  If you’re not familiar with the game, the basic idea is fitting together a series of different shaped blocks that fall from the top of the screen.  You can move the different shapes to fit together very well, or it can all become a big mess and stacks up on top of each other.  It’s a pretty addictive game to the point that you start seeing the same shapes in the tile pattern in a bathroom floor or in brick buildings.

Now I am not a serious gamer by any definition, but my amateur experience with Tetris has actually given me practice for working on kitchens.  With the answers to your questions, I am presented with a series of “boxes” or cabinets and appliances, and I put them together to relate to one another.  Appliances have to be positioned so that they have a relationship with one another, but still have functional workspace between them.  I also have to take into consideration existing obstacles in the space like the placement of windows, doors, electrical outlets, and plumbing lines.

Playing Tetris and laying out a kitchen has trained my brain to continue to look for those same patterns and configurations in my surroundings.  Kitchen design is truly addictive for me.  But luckily I think it’s a good thing for me to take my work home with me.

Have you ever had an unexpected link between your professional and personal life?  Or maybe even between your childhood and future career choices?  Comment below and tells us about your connections.

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