Archive for DIY

Recently I had the opportunity to attend a Pallet Garden class at Green Things in Tucson.  The plants and the staff are amazing.  The class had its challenging moments.  Picking from all their beautiful plants was the hardest part.greenthings_garden_center_tropical_greenhouse 

So here is what you need:

  1. A pallet-salvaged or constructed.  For this class we used a 16″ x 16″ pallet that was very easy to manage.  Larger pallets will take a lot more materials and become pretty heavy.
  2. Plants-here is my collection 🙂succulents_supplies_greenthings_garden-center_tucson_azJPG
  3. Coco coir mat.  This is available by the roll and/or the foot.  You only need about a 2′ square piece for the small pallet.  The sheet goods will be shredded to fill the bottom of each level of the pallet.coirmatting_coir_shredded_pallet_garden_green-Things.2
  4. Green moss- the type that is often used in tops of pots (not sphagnum moss).  It comes in a plastic bag.  One medium bag was used for this pallet.  Soak it in a large bucket of water before use.  It is layered over the coir fiber and the plants are nestled into the moist moss.sheet_moss_potting_pallet_garden_2
  5. Here is Cathy, our very talented garden designer, demonstrating the packing of the pallet with the shredded coir.greenthings_ tucson_Cathy_instructor_2x2_pallet_coirmatting
  6. Here is Cathy and me working on my pallet.  I got off to a slow start but finally got the hang of it.  When you think you have enough coir matting packed in, add some more.  It is the supporting structure between the pallet levels.  Thanks Cathy for your help!Cathy_Mary_Greenthings_pallet_building_class

AND here is the final product…succulent_pallet_finished-greenthings-nurseryThat is the short and sweet of building a succulent pallet garden.  Hopefully these 3″small succulent babies will grow and fill in the spaces.  They need very little water and prefer a shady spot.  Grow babies, grow!

Here is a video posted on Facebook about the class.  It is long but you can get a feels for the technique of building a pallet garden.  Thanks to Catalina, a staff member at Green Things alias videographer, there is a nice recap of How to build a pallet garden.

I’m getting ready to hang my new pallet wall garden on my front porch.

Hope you give it a try.

Happy planting!


PS:  A new art glass collection is being introduced on the Mary Sherwood Art Glass page later this week.  The holiday collection is right behind it.  Take a look.  Comments more than welcome!

Mary Sherwood Lifestyles




Win a Jar of Prickly Pear Jelly

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Let’s do something different this week!  Do you want to win a jar of prickly pear jelly?  Here is your chance.

Share this post with a friend and have them sign up to receive our weekly blog post and both of your names will be entered to win an 8 oz. jar of my (freshly prepared) jelly.  I will ship the jar to the lucky winner.  I must have an email address, so if you win I can reach you to get a shipping address.  Read on to hear the story of our prickly pear adventure.


We have a huge 10′ Prickly Pear tree. It was loaded with prickly pears called “tunas”.  There was plenty for us and the birds. The large paddles are call nopales.  There has been lots of research conducted about the medicinal use of prickly pear plants.  Click here to read more about the uses of the prickly pear.

This is the process that led to the final reward, the beautiful “pinkberry” color of prickly pear jelly!

We picked the fruit very carefully with tongs and leather gloves. Everything was okay until Paul took off his gloves and accidentally rubbed his head not knowing the “glochids”, small hairlike prickles, were on his hands. Sooo- about one hour later after I picked these nasty spines out, I had them in my hands. Later I was told to use masking tape and pull them out. This info came a little too late. 🙁 After reading all kinds of techniques for removing the juice we settled on rinsing them, placed them in freezer bags and freeze until ready to use. About two weeks later we removed the fruit from our “limited” freezer space and let thaw. The juice and pulp squeezed right out.  It took about 35-40 tunas to make six cups of juice.pricklypear-juice-lowsugar-recipeWear leather gloves even though the prickles were gone after the big freeze. Strain fruit in a fine mesh strainer (didn’t have cheesecloth) to remove the seedy pulp. The juice is such a pretty “pinkberry”color. (I just coined that color name :0) There is very little flavor in the juice, sort of a cross between watermelon and a peach.

We tried a low sugar canning recipe and it works great!  The jelly is wonderful, sweet but not too sweet.  The recipe still has sugar but 50% less than regular jelly  Here is the recipes we used from Root Simple.  The jelly was processed in our make-shift canning pot to seal the lids.  I love hearing the “pop” as the jelly cools and lids seal tight.pricklypear-jelly-processing-sealing

Our six 8 oz jars of jelly are shown with the pears or “tunas” of our tree.  Not all pears are peach/yellow.  There is a smaller variety next store that has ruby pink tunas.  I think we may try that variety next time.   Although, I am thinking we still can harvest enough for a second batch from our tree. if the birds haven’t beat us to it.

Even though this cactus is extremely prevalent in the Southwest, our North Carolina friends can also find prickly pears.  We had them growing at the end of our driveway at the lake. I was never brave enough to try them until now.

Lesson learned-be armed to fight the “pricklies” but it is well worth it!

Who wants to try my jelly?

Reply below, share this link with a friend, have them reply and you both have a chance to win an 8 oz jar of my “pinkberry” prickly pear jelly.   Good luck!


Mary Sherwood Lifestyles

If you have trouble replying below just send me an email at  Thanks for replying!


PS:  I saved two cups of juice to make the prickly pear cheesecake I mentioned last week.  We’ll see how that turns out!




Art Glass Passion

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I am in love with all forms of art glass.  If there was anyway I could afford it I would collect Chihuly Glass.  Short of that I have gathered an assortment of small to large glass art for my own home.  Many of you may recall some of these pieces if you toured our Lake Gaston home.  Now that we have relocated to Tucson I have access to a small glass studio to try my hand at fused glass.  I started last November and am feeling more and more confident.  Here is my dabbling in this art form from the very first piece to my latest collection.fused-art-glass-4inch-trinket-plate-black-multi

My first 4″ trinket dish I made in the introductory glass.  I hope you will appreciate my evolving skills.


Early on as I was trying to brighten up a small 3/4 bath.  I decided to make glass  pulls and knobs to add some pizazz.  While browsing in Target I located the perfect hand towels to complete the look.


11″ clear, turquoise and blue lattice sushi plate.  I love the effect of lattice weave.  This plate helped me to improve my cutting skills.  I still have a lot more room to grown in cutting a straight line. 🙂


I love to use scrape pieces to pull together a design.  Nothing goes to waste.  Most of the glass in this 9″ plate is from scrape.  I tried a new technique with this plate.  The squiggly pieces are made by melting thin glass stringers into all kinds of funky shapes.


I have been admiring this bowl design in a fused glass book.  I finally got up the courage to cut 30 glass circles of assorted sizes and colors.  I adapted the design using my own take on the colors and shapes of all the pieces.  I absolutely love the finished 9″ bowl!


I have been longing to make bigger art glass pieces.  The kiln in our community glass studio can only accommodate up to a twelve inch piece.  I ventured out to a local stained and fused glass art shop and took a 4 hours garden totem class. Here is the finished piece.  It is 27″ h x 6″ w.  I am so thrilled with it.  I have the clear glass bases cut for a 30″ and 36″, so there is more to come.  fused-art-glass-closeup-garden-totem-27inches-multi-color-dichoricglass-abstract-design

Here is a close up of the totem.  It is so pretty I am not sure I can put it in the garden!  It includes over 100 glass pieces and some metallic dichroic glass accents.  I didn’t really think I had it in me to finish this piece the day of the class.  We started with a blank canvas of clear glass and had to come up with a concept.  There were five students in the class and every totem is entirely different.  As the other finished pieces are photographed I will share them.  Creative minds are a wonderful thing.


Here is a collage of a few art glass pieces I created to add to my collection.  I love being creative.  If you see something you like I will be happy to discuss commissioned pieces.  I can only display but so much of my own glass so help me out here!!!

I think you can see my passion for art glass!

I am thankful I have a local community workshop with wonderful cohorts that always spur me on.  I would not have the courage to keep trying new techniques and designs without them and their kind advise.  Thanks SCOV fused glass girls!



Mary Sherwood Lifestyles-working with you to create your lifestyle.





About six weeks ago I ask for help with selecting the paint color for our Master Bedroom.  The final decision was Benjamin Moore #647.   Read more about the color selections here:  Help me with my MBR design.

Benjamin Moore 647 Fun and Games looks amazing on the master bedroom wall! It brightens the room even in low light conditions.

Benjamin Moore 647 Fun and Games looks amazing on the master bedroom wall! It brightens the room even in low light conditions.

So now we are finally pulling it all together.  The wall is painted and the fabrics are selected.  Now what?

It is quite a long story how we acquired a very oversized mirror (slightly damaged in transit).  I fell in love with the rustic texture of the frame and the massive size. The mirror needed a large bare wall.

Rustic 64" diameter oversized mirror by LazySusan

Rustic 64″ diameter oversized mirror by LazySusan

I needed a headboard in the MBR and had a large bare wall.  This is the beginning of the plan.

Bland Master Bedroom Wall-way too white!

Bland Master Bedroom Wall-way too white!

So how do you create a headboard and incorporate the mirror?  I first made a template using the mirror to determine the shape of the headboard and tried it behind the bed.

Cut out headboard template taped to wall.

Cut out headboard template taped to wall.

Now the fun begins! 🙂  Paul and I constructed the headboard frame out of plywood and foam insulation board to decrease the weight and give it a thick side edge.  The frame was covered with a thin foam mattress pad and wrapped with quilt batting.  The fabric was then pulled tight over the frame and stapled in place. ( The fabric color did not photograph well.  It is actually a more muted shade of the wall color).  I had planned on adding large nailhead trim to accent the headboard shape. As it was coming together I decided to keep the headboard surface unembellishedTake note to highlight the texture of the mirror. (If you would like more information about the headboard construction please leave a commit and I will send you more information).

The biggest challenge of the whole project was hanging the mirror and the headboard.  So here it is!

Master bedroom headboard wall with mirror and accessories.

Master bedroom headboard wall with mirror and accessories.

As shown in the blog Help me with my MBR design we used the very pastel coverlet and shams accented by stronger, brighter colored pillows.  Also, we added the striped fabric element to the waterfall bench at the end of the bedheadboard-large-scale-mirror-pillow-texture-Rizzy-waterfall-bench-Robertallenfabric-project-tucson-smallabode

Take note that even this month’s editions of two popular home magazines used the colors of this bedroom.  The roses were just picked from my desert rose garden. 🙂

House Beautiful and Residential Lighting magazines used the bedroom colors in their latest editions!

House Beautiful and Residential Lighting magazines used the bedroom colors in their latest editions!

Still a few details to add.  Pillow shams are being made using the bench fabric to give the bed more definition.  Still not sure if the headboard needs nailhead or fabric trim???  What do you think?

I hope you don’t find this “huge” mirror headboard too “off the wall”.  I think it came together well and certainly filled the large bare wall!

Let me hear your comments-good or bad!  Suggestions always welcome.


Working with you to create your lifestyle!

Mary Sherwood Lifestyles, Inc.



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!


If you have recently changed your color scheme or updated your interior how do you incorporate the new color scheme into this year’s holiday décor? Look for inspiration where you least expect it.

This dining room had recently been updated using a wonderful blue accent wall (Benjamin Moore #798 Blue Suede Shoes). Could this be our inspiration?

Blue accent wall was the inspiration!

Blue accent wall was the inspiration!


How do you use the common holiday colors of red and green with this blue wall? With very little investment in new decorations the room began to come together with the addition of blue ornaments and a few other blue accents. The new items included inexpensive glass and plastic ornaments, multi-colored small gift bags (including blue), small little gift wrap bows and curly ribbon. Other found items from the owner’s collection were wine glasses, an antique tall pitcher with a blue rim, glass cylinders, glass vases and glass candlesticks.

Blue glass candlesticks, a vase and a pitcher were from the owner's collection.

Blue glass candlesticks, a vase and a pitcher were from the owner’s collection.

The centerpiece was the starting point which used an assortment of ornaments and objects. Heights were varied to create a pleasing arrangement. Hostess gifts were wrapped in the small foil gift bags to later be used as place cards for a holiday dinner. To give the arrangement more length on the 108” long table curly ribbon was casually placed at each end of the centerpiece.

Assorted small ornaments, glass candlesticks and containers are the components of this easy centerpiece.

Assorted small ornaments, glass candlesticks and containers are the components of this easy centerpiece.

When the table settings were placed the centerpiece was adjusted to allow more room on the table. A few of the pieces removed from the table were placed on the serving buffet to carry out the multi-color scheme.

Company is coming table setting-casual but festive!

Company is coming table setting-casual but festive!

The pièce de résistance was the valance, created with Christmas ornaments tied to staggered lengths of curly ribbon, which frames the entrance to the dining room.

Holiday valance made of assorted shapes and sizes of ornaments.

Holiday valance made of assorted shapes and sizes of ornaments.

Each area of the great space was decorated with multi-colors including a touch of the newly added blue. Think about how you can bring a little of your new interior color(s) into your holiday scheme without starting all over.

Happy holiday decorating!


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

I have never been leery about touching up a gilded mirror or a chipped frame.  But this last project was a challenge.  Our client had a very large chandelier that was way oversized for the dining room (left by a previous owner).  She wanted to replace it but hated to “just get rid of it”.  I suggested we lightened up the finish and place it in the large volume of space of the two story foyer.  Open mouth and insert foot… “I said I can lighten this up, no problem”.  I totally lost all sense of how large this piece is and how much it weighed.  The owner had her electrician take the fixture down and she brought it to our door.  When it arrived and she said: “It will take two of us to get it out of the SUV”, I began to realize the error of my ways to be so willing to take on the re-do.

But I had a plan.  My “trade secret” for renewing a variety of products is Rub n’ Buff.  I have used it for years on furniture, metal items, walls and more.  It comes in many colors and is available in many different finishes.

For this chandelier project I used one tube of the Pewter Rub n’ Buff.  Here are the before and afters.  Although, it is not yet hung it shows what a wonderful way you can re-new a piece.


Oversized chandelier for a compact dining space.


Close-up of chandelier part before applying the pewter finish


Finial with brushed on pewter finish


Chandelier almost ready to hang with new pewter finish with hints of the original finish showing through. We also have new drum shades on order to complete the updated look.


I found a great blog site that shows a number of ways to use Buff n’ Rub. Because this product is so easy to use you probably still have time to spruce up something in your house for the holidays.

Happy rubbing and buffing with my favorite Trade Secret!


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



‘Tis the Season to be Tacky!

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'Tis-the-season-to-be-tacky-bottle-tagIt’s the week of our Christmas Open House here at MSLL! I have been blinded by Christmas lights, covered in glitter, and the bows just keep coming and coming. Whoops!? I’m sorry that was just my tacky sweater! HaHa!

'Tis-the-season-to-be-tacky-beer‘Tis the season to be Tacky!  & we are embracing this Tacky trend this holiday season at MSLL! We even have a whole tree dedicated to this Tacky Christmas trend! Why Tacky!? Well because it’s FUN! There are no rules, no guidelines and just about anything works! It brings out the kid in all of us!

The holiday season is a great time to gather with friends and family. Special festivities take place and this year Tacky Christmas Sweater parties top the chart as the most popular party theme to host this holiday season.  However, this may require you to wear a tacky sweater that you may not own. NO FEAR! There is even a website now that sells ONLY Tacky Christmas Sweaters! Like I said, this trend is taking over the spotlight!


Tacky Christmas Sweaters can be for your beverages too! Like the ones shown here!

Tacky Sweaters can be found at thrift stores, eBay, or if you’re feeling creative construct a one of a kind sweater of your own! I think homemade sweaters are the way to go. Just like homemade Halloween costumes, they always make a better lasting impression. 


Check out these Mini Tacky Christmas Sweater Ornaments from our Tacky Christmas Tree in our Showroom!

Not sure how to create a Tacky Christmas Sweater? Here are a few tips to consider:

1. Start with a good sweater for the base. Bright bold cheerful colors in shades of green or red will work best! Any sweater with an over-the-top print or pattern are great as well.

2. Ornaments are second. These can be found at any dollar store or thrift store. The more unique the better! Stay away from breakable ornaments – this could get messy in the middle of your party, PARTY FOWL!

3. Add a little Flare to your sweater. Sequins, tinsel, shiny bows, garland, what ever your heart desires here!

4.Patches and other appliques can be a quick and easy fix! Hot glue them or even iron-on’s will do the trick! Wah LAH! Your Done!  You have a one of a kind Tacky Christmas Sweater that is sure to be the highlight of the party.

'Tis-the-season-to-be-tacky-christmas-tree-sweaterHere are some of my favorite homemade Tacky Sweaters I’ve come Across Online: 

Christmas Sweater Tree– I have seen this several times, it’s so clever. When she puts her arms above her head her sweater becomes a beautiful Christmas tree.



The Abominable Snowman Tacky Sweater- I love this! Rudolph is a classic Christmas movie and this fuzzy guy will steal the show at your next Tacky appearance.

Tacky Couple of Sweaters– Get the Hubby involved! I think this is adorable and even tackier that they match!


Which Sweater is your favorite!? Or do you have a Tacky ensemble you would like to share?

We hope to see everyone this Saturday at our Christmas Open House! Seminar beings at 9 AM! Shopping 10 AM! 

Have a Tacky Holiday Season! 

-Dixie K 

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



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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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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5 Tips to Picking the Perfect Paint Color

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5 tips to picking the perfect paint color, benjamin moore

Whether it’s your kitchen, master bedroom or bath, finding the perfect paint color can seem overwhelming. There’s so many to choose from! Having the perfect paint color is the easiest way to add that “WOW!” factor to your home without breaking your budget.

Here are five great tips to the in’s and out’s when choosing the perfect paint color.

5 tips to picking the perfect paint color, game room, benjamin moore seagrove

 Tip # 1

Think about what space you are going to paint. The floor finish in the room is what we would consider your first color. The other secondary colors to consider would be any of the fabrics, furnishings and accessories in the space.

While in design school at Radford University,  I would always want to choose the paint color first. I thought paint made the most impact and  excitement to the room. Later, I learned it’s better to decide the paint color after your major room elements have been decided. This is because there are a million paint colors to choose from. It’s a lot easier to match a paint color to your favorite chair than having to recovered the chair because you’re in love with a particular paint color.

5 tips to picking the perfect paint color, master bedroom, benjamin moore white sand

Tip #2

Inspiration. This is a very helpful way to decide the perfect paint color! Maybe you recall a certain vacation spot that you would like to recreate. Artwork is a great way to draw inspiration. Using the colors of a particular painting or photograph can help set the tone for creating your room’s color story.

5 tips to picking the perfect paint color, girls bedroom, benjamin moore jamaican aqua, calming cream

Tip # 3

When in doubt try sample paint. It’s a lot cheaper and easier to make a decision when seeing the color actually sampled in the room. This will cost you around $5.95. This is not a bad price for such a big decision if you are still having a hard time choosing. Seeing a bigger swatch of your color than on a paint chip will help make your decision easier. Remember when looking at a paint chip in the store hold it next to something that is white to get the true color.  Holding it next to other colors may trick the eye.

 5 tips to picking the perfect paint color, kitchen, benjamin moore pale sea mist

Tip # 4

Live with your color. It’s a good idea to give your colors a test run. Test out your colors in the room you want to revamp. You can apply the sample paints or just hang the paint chips.  Either way, this will also help you see how the colors will react in both day and night lighting. Remember to label the swatches so you can remember which color you liked best during your test run.

5 tips to picking the perfect paint color living room, benjamin moore huntington beige

Tip #5

5 tips to picking the perfect paint color, sheen chart

Don’t forget the finish. This can also change the look of your color whether it appears shiny or matte. Here are some finishes and their characteristics.

Flat or Matte: has the least shine and the least reflective surface

Eggshell or Satin: has  slightly  more sheen than flat, usually used in high traffic areas or kids room because it can be cleaned more easily

Semi-Gloss: holds up even better than eggshell and is also easily cleaned, yet more prone to showing imperfections

Gloss: better for trims, has a high shine quality 



I really hope these tips make your next painting project a bit easier.   When I was a teenager, my mom and I were both hooked on HGTV.  As such, we often tackled home improvement projects together from laying ceramic tile, laying laminate flooring to creative faux painting techniques.    As my mom would say:  “Never fear a paint project.  If we hate the paint choice, it’s not the end of the world.  We can always paint right over it!”


-Dixie K

Mary Sherwood Lake Living, Lake Gaston

“Working with you to create your lifestyle!”

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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Faux Painting Ideas

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I have never been a fan of white walls in a home. It’s obvious how much we love color here at Mary Sherwood Lake Living.  Finding a color to paint on the walls isn’t always an easy decision. There are so many colors to choose from, one may not know where to begin.

There are other options for using paint to create one of a kind walls that will have your guest in awe.  Faux painting has become a trend in the design world. It can be seen on furniture, walls, and now even counter tops!

Here are a few techniques that will have your wheels turning for your next project.


Crackle-even the name is fun and unique.  The rustic, antique feel it brings to a room creates an instant feel of ease.  I actually have used this faux finish in the dining room.  Crackle can be a creative way to mix two colors in a room.  The top coat would be the primary, and the secondary color would be displayed between the cracks.  Depending on the method you choose to use, you can create a look that seems weathered or delicate, like porcelain.

Faux Painting Ideas-Crackle


Dragging and Linen Weave

Linen weave faux finish looks exactly as it’s name, like linen! This has to be my favorite of all of the faux finishes. This finish will give any room that homey, warm and fuzzy feeling. Linen weave may require a bit of extra work but in the end the results are worth it. I would suggest using this finish in a navy to give the illusion of blue jeans.  This would be an awesome look in either a boys room or the laundry room.

Faux Painting Ideas-Dragging and Linen Weave


Wood Grain

I love this finish! The black in the first photo is pretty remarkable. I might use this in a niche in my kitchen or in a bar area. The rustic look and detail in this faux finish is impressive. I like how the detail shows up in brighter colors as well. Even on the furniture this faux finish works well, like the dresser shown below. This finish is easy to achieve, there is a rocker that acts as a stamp that can be purchased to help you have the exact wood grain with out hardly any effort. Too Easy!

Faux Painting Ideas-Wood Grain


Terra Cotta

WOW! This effect can be achieved in many ways and with more than two colors. Although, this finish may be one of the harder finishes to prefect, it defiantly produces a dramatic effect.  It is advised to practice first before beginning. This will ensure you are getting the look you want to achieve. When your hard work is all over you will have a unique beautiful room worth bragging about.

Faux Painting Ideas-Terra Cotta


Rag Rolling

I used this technique in our living room. I have to say the finished product came out really well. I actually had fun doing it.  The fun came with the allowance for imperfection. I don’t think you can possibly go wrong with this faux finish. There are many ways to create this look. We actually used cheese cloth and rolled it like in the picture below.  You can also use a plastic bag to create an interesting effect.

Faux Painting Ideas-Rag Rolling




There are several companies that make tools, kits, and glazes to achieve these looks. Martha Stewart and Ralph Lauren are the two that I have had experience with using.  There are special rollers, brushes, sponges and stamps that can be purchased to help make your project easier.  They even have glitter and sand that you can add to your paint for an even more dramatic look!


Faux Painting Ideas-Products

Whatever faux finish you choose remember to have fun with it! It can be a long process but just remember in the end you will have a masterpiece to be proud of for years to come.

If tackling a faux finish project is daunting  there are several professionals in our area that can handle the job.  Ask us for a referral.

-Dixie K

Have you used any of these techniques before!? If so we would love for you to share them with us and your recommendations for perfecting the style.

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




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!


Painting Shutters like a Professional

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The original shutters on my home were a  light robin blue, which I really didn’t care for. This robin blue was popular when my home was built, but I was ready for a change in scenery. I decided to change the color of the shutters to a burgundy red that I think blended well with my cedar siding.

I changed the color of the shutters about 7 years ago to a colonial red. But, the shutters now are ready for a touch up. Most of them face direct sunlight and other elements all year, so as you can see they were overdue for an update.

Before you begin make sure you have the necessary supplies you will need to complete this project.  I used rubber gloves, spray paint, a paint scrapper, sandpaper, a ladder, drill or screwdriver and drop cloth or tarp.

First. Begin by taking the shutters down. This is necessary because you do not want to take the risk of getting paint on the siding.

Painting Shutters Like a professional/Before

Second. Use sandpaper and/or a  paint scrapper to remove dirt and excess flaked paint from area.  You want to get the surface as smooth as possible before painting. Some cases may require you to use a primer as well. I would suggest wearing protective goggles during this process to avoid any debris such as paint chips and dust getting into your eyes. After sanding, remove dust with soap and water, and wipe clean.

Third.  Designate an area where you would like to paint your shutters. I used a work bench outside our garage that I covered with a tarp to protect it from the spray paint. It’s always important when painting to do this in a well ventilated area. Remember, when using spray paint you don’t want too much of a breeze when working outside.Painting-Shutters-Drop-Cloth


Fourth.  Make sure you are using an exterior paint, I prefer to use spray paint in this project. I decided to use Rust-Oleum spray paint. This particular spray paint gives twice the coverage, saving you time and money. As you can see, I needed all the coverage  I could get because these shutters have been neglected too long.  Again, the color I choose is a colonial red with a satin finish.Painting-Shutters-Spray-Paint

Now would be the time to wear your rubber gloves to avoid getting spray paint on your hands. When spraying, make sure you are about 8 inches away from the surface, this will prevent runs and saturation. You want to try to have even stokes while spraying. I started with the sides, and then went towards the center. In the center, I begin at the top and sprayed from side to side gradually going towards the bottom of the shutter. You may have to turn the shutter upside down to make sure you are getting in the angles of the slats, like in this particular style shutter. Once you have sprayed your shutters, I would allow them to dry at least 4 hours. Check the shutter after the first hour just to make sure all areas were covered evenly, or if a second coat needs to be applied.


Last.   After you have allowed the shutters to dry and are satisfied with the finish, you may hang the shutters back in their original place. This may require a ladder, depending upon the placement of your shutters. Once you have the shutters in place, you are DONE!

Here is the finished product. I am completely satisfied with the  overall project. It was so simple any DIY-er could do it. The results speak for themselves. I am so glad I had time to tackle this project right before our family reunion this weekend.  I hope I get lots of compliments on the fresh look!



 I love the finished product! How do you think I did?

-Dixie K

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

Lake Gaston, NC