Archive for design


Is Your Green Thumb Itching?

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Spring has sprung.  Is your green thumb itching?  If so, container gardening is an ideal solution if you’re limited on ground to till.  It allows an easy and portable way to brighten up your porch, patio, or deck with minimal prep and maintenance.

Our new Amazing Plant Stands offers a new spin on an old tradition.  With the help of this integrated system, it allows you to construct a tiered container stand.  The possibilities are endless!

The plant stand comes in two convenient sizes, one for tabletop which allows for a three tiered configuration, and the second is a larger stand with a numerous, varying sized design.

plant, stand, container, garden

What a simple way to show off your green thumb…and your creativity!  And you don’t have to stick with the old standby terracotta pot.  Try mixing it up by painting your pots in a variety of pastel colors to breathe extra life into your creation.

pastel, spring, plant, stand, pot, container, garden

You can also try utilizing different types of containers as well.  The examples below illustrate the usage of Chinese rice buckets in various sizes and textures to add interest to their plant stands.

plant, stand, pot, fern, vinca

Finally, your “plant” stand doesn’t have to be confined to merely plants.  Use the tiered structure to display a multitude of items, just like these stuffed animals for a little girl’s room.

pink, stuffed animals, plant, stand, pot

Your plant stand design is only limited by your imagination!

Please join us on Saturday, April 27th at 11 a.m. for our “Amazing Plant Stand” demo class.  Contact us at Mary Sherwood Lake Living, 252.586.2437, to reserve your space today.  Class fee is $10 with a $5 rebate towards the purchase of your own “Amazing Plant Stand”.

How can you use one of these “Amazing Plant Stands”?



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

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Summer is quickly approaching and we will be spending more time outdoors around beautiful Lake Gaston.  With some pre-planning and these quick tips, you can be ready to play and enjoy all your outdoor time:

  1. Take In A Breath of Fresh Air:  On warm spring days (before or after pollen season) open your windows, air out your house. Clean and repair screens to enjoy the greatest benefits from the warm breezes.

    Blue Porch Ceiling, Haint Blue, Daylight in Porch

    Blue Porch Ceiling

  2. Clean out the cobwebs:  Clean the ceiling fan blades of dust and cobwebs.   Check that the blades are rotating counter-clockwise for summer air circulation.  In years past, front porch ceilings were painted blue to keep the spiders away.  Last summer, we painted our screened porch ceiling sky blue and our spider population really decreased.  There is an interesting interview on NPR that talks about blue porch ceilings.

    Folklore or not, it is worth a try.

  3. Outdoor Furniture, Comfortable Outdoor Furniture, Homecrest Furniture

    Comfortable Outdoor Furniture

    Comfy Furniture:  To enjoy your leisure time outdoors make sure your furniture is comfortable.  If you can’t invest in the best, start with inexpensive plastic furniture and cushions that you can easily replace when the budget allows.  I invested in our porch furniture over twenty years ago.  Every five to seven years, I have re-covered or replaced the cushions.  Most of our guests say our porch seating is the best seating in the house!

  4. Prep the Grill:    Summertime is barbecue time!  Clean your grill, check the gas ports, fill the propane tank and empty the grease traps.


    Grow Your Own

  5. Grow Your Own:  Whether you have limited space or a large plot, consider growing your own produce.  It can save money, help you eat healthy, limit the pesticides in food and help our planet.  If you are new to vegetable gardening, tomatoes, basil, herbs and lettuce are a few easy veggies to start with.

    Outdoor Lighting, Mason Jar Lighting, String Lights

    Outdoor Lighting

  6. Illuminate the Dark:  For safety’s sake, illuminate all outdoor paths and stairs.  There are many new LED lighting options to efficiently do the job.
  7. Lighten up your Closet:  Move the heavier, darker clothes and boots of winter to the back or far side of your closet.  Make room for the sundresses, flip-flops and bathing suits.
  8. Freshen Up Your Guest Rooms:  Fluff up your bedding and replace your pillows or give them a spin in the dryer on air dry with a fabric dryer sheet.  Add a value priced duvet cover or matelasse coverlet to give a fresh look to the room.
  9. Pump It Up:   Inflate all the water toys and check for leaks.  It’s no fun having the kids all ready for a ride and not have use of their favorite floating vehicle.
  10. Get Your Lounge On!  Put on your shorts or favorite swimsuit, head to the deck or pier and “get your lounge on”.  Enjoy!!!


What do you look forward to most about summer at the lake?  Tell us and maybe we can help you enjoy it even more!


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


Celebrate Easter with Style…

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happy easter, easter, egg

At Mary Sherwood Lake Living, we believe that design is not merely your surroundings, but also your lifestyle!

In honor of Easter, we’d like to present a medley of tips….

Gingerbread houses are usually thought of as a painstaking process…stir up the gingerbread batter, roll it out, cut out the shapes, bake the individual parts, erect the house, and finally, the fun part, decorate.  The ingenious moms at The Candy Cottage have done the hard part for us and created a ready-to-decorate gingerbread house.  They simply need some candy and icing along with your imagination.  They can be decorated to celebrate any occasion, but we’re highlighting the Easter house.

easter, house, gingerbread, cottage

easter, house, gingerbread, decorationThe houses come individually packaged with snap together pieces that easily fit together to form the house.  Once constructed, simply adorn the house with icing and Easter candy such as jelly beans, pastel Reese’s Pieces, tiny marshmallows, and pastel M&Ms.

candy cottage, easter, gingerbread

Another great tip is converting your everyday deviled eggs into “devilish” easter egg chicks.  Simply hard boil and cut your eggs in half crosswise.  Cut a thin sliver off the bottom half of the egg to help it stand upright.  Scoop the filling below into the bottom half of the egg, place the top on, and adorn with black peppercorns for eyes, and a triangle of carrot for the beak.  Voila!

Devilish Easter Egg Filling:

  • 12 Egg Yolks
  • 1/3 c. Wasabi Cucumber Dill Sauce (available at MSLL)
  • 2 tsp. dijon mustard
  • Salt and Pepper
deviled egg, chick, devilish, easter

Pic courtesy of Make Life Special

Lastly, why not make your easter drinks look adorable as well?  Simply push a straw lengthwise through a bunny Peep and serve with your favorite springtime beverage.  Too cute!

bunny peep, easter, drink, beverage, straw, peep

Pic courtesy of theautocrathaley


So however you decide to celebrate this Easter holiday, do it with style…


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


What’s Going On Your Gallery Wall?

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Art in a home is a personal element and a reflection of the homeowners.  Rather than using one specific statement piece, why not highlight a multitude of items that reflect your style using a gallery wall?

The possibilities for a gallery wall are endless.  You can use a variety of frames, sizes, and mat colors unified with a central theme to create one large focal point like these framed maps.

maps, gallery, wall, art


If you’re not quite this eclectic, you can use matching frame colors, styles, and mats in a random pattern to create unity between varied themes.  This gives the eye a place to rest between images.

wall art collage1


If you’re a little OCD like myself, you can also use varied imagery placed in a linear pattern to make the gallery appear more symmetrical.

linear, wall, art, gallery, frames


If you’re a fan of color, remember that painting the wall behind your gallery with a great color or even highlighting one specific piece of art within your arrangement can make a huge impact.

gallery, color, wall, art


And if you’re noncommittal and can’t decide what to put in your gallery, using picture ledges is the perfect option.  It allows you to easily display your current faves, while giving you the flexibility to move them around or replace them on the spur of the moment.

picture, ledge, wall, art, gallery

No matter your design style, a gallery wall is an ideal solution to show off who you are and what makes you smile!

What’s going on your gallery wall?


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

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Check out this video of a recent kitchen project!  Stay tuned for the bloopers at the end!  It’s my favorite part!

This kitchen is a beautiful example of using a neutral color palette with a pop of color.  We developed the plan for this kitchen based on these three goals:

  1. Improve the style and layout of the space.
  2. Update the appliances and fixtures.
  3. Enhance the appearance and function for casual dining.

The neutral color palette developed around the Cold Spring granite countertops.  The perimeter cabinet finish of Polar White w/Slate Glaze and the island finish of Black were the perfect compliments for this granite.

Once the kitchen construction was complete we added decorative glass accessories to the lighted upper cabinets for the pop of red to spice up the room.

We hope you enjoyed the video!

Let us know if we can work with you to add some updating and spice to your space!!!



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

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Are You Green with Envy?

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Will you be green with envy for all the new products being introduced in the color green?  The answer is certainly YES!  Why green?

Green represents nature, growth, renewal, regeneration, and unity. Consequently, Emerald Green, the Color of the Year for 2013, was selected by Pantone color specialists as appropriate for this point in history. Green also represents good luck and money.

Succulents, green, blue green, lime green

Succulent garden

Green is often used in decorating for its calming effect. Green is thought to help relieve stress and help with healing. Those who work in an environment that is green often report less stomach distress.

Shiraleah, platter,

Frames, platters and plates of green.

Green is everywhere we turn from the many hues of nature to the multi-facets of precious stones. The eye sees more green than any other color in the spectrum.

Gems, green gems, emeralds,tourmaline, peridot, malachite

The multi-facets of green

Green is easy on the eyes. For example, guests waiting to appear on television programs often wait in “the green room” to relax.

malachite, green room, white furniture, dinig table

The Malachite Green Room at CR Laine Showroom

Green pairs well with just about any color.  Try using Emerald green and royal blue, kiwi green with tangerine, or Peridot green with carnation pink to make your friends green!

Here are a few other ways to be green with envy, compliments of Home Accents Today magazine:

Home Accents Today Green Color Wheel

Home Accents Today Green Color Wheel

Will you jump on the green color wheel?

If you love green have fun with it!



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




Categories : Design
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Don’t forget your fifth wall…

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Whether decorating a new space or renovating an existing space, always keep in mind your fifth wall…the ceiling.  It’s easy to focus on your wall color, but looking up may inspire you to go in a completely different design direction.

Most people assume their ceilings will be white, but why not think outside the box?  Always remember that paint is your friend!  It’s an inexpensive and easy way to inject color into your space…both vertically and horizontally!

Painted ceilings can be used in a subtle way to merely accent the wall color and enhance crown molding.

paint, subtle, ceiling

By painting the ceiling a darker color, you can create an optical illusion of a lower ceiling.

ceiling, charcoal, illusion

Painted ceilings can also make a bold statement.  Try carrying an intense wall color up and over the ceiling, or use a subtle hue on the wall and make an impact on the ceiling.

green, ceiling, paintpink, ceiling, painted

Don’t forget that any paint treatment that you can do on a wall can also be done on a ceiling (although not quite as easily).

striped, ceiling, paint

And if you’re really daring (and talented), let your imagination run wild…

ceiling, design, painted, bold

Interior design is meant to be personal, it’s meant to be a reflection of who you are and how you live, and above all it’s meant to be fun!  Experiment a little!


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

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To Market, To Market, To Buy…..

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So the nursery rhyme reads “to market, to market, to buy a fat pig, home again, home again, jiggety-jig”.  Well, we went to market and we’re home again, but there was no fat pig.  There were, however, a multitude of new products in every possible category.

We perused, navigated, and maneuvered as much of the four buildings and seven million square feet of Atlanta Gift Market as we were humanly able.  We were tired, but invigorated at the same time by the many new innovative gift lines, housewares, furniture, and apparel available.  Now we can’t show you everything new that we have coming because that would spoil the surprise,  but we thought a sneak peek would hopefully wet your appetites.


scarf, scarves, belt, purse, apparel, clothing

Bright new color combinations and graphic patterns were predominant in the apparel category.

shoe, purse, handbag, sandal


Leather, grommets, and attention to details led the design trend for shoes and handbags.


jewelry, earrings, bracelets, necklaces, silver, beads

Metallics, classic leathers, and beaded details inspired the direction of jewelry designers.


wall art, art, frame, canvas, silver

Large scale canvases and printed metals saturated the wall art category, while colorful, ceramic and meticulously beaded frames were seen in numerous showrooms.


furniture, company c, chevron, pillows, fabric

Furniture design and decorator pillows were inspired by bold graphics, contemporary color palettes, textured fabrics, and bright new florals.


pot, plant, garden, terrarium, greenery

Self-watering wine bottles, rustic painted ceramic planters, and custom terrariums were highlights of the garden product lines.


holiday, pumpkin, turkey, halloween, thanksgiving, christmas, ornament

Fun, whimsical, overscaled decorations helped us make our buying decisions for the holidays!

Since market, we are now renewed, refreshed, and reenergized after a busy holiday season.  We are looking forward to enjoying a successful 2013 with our valued and much loved customers.

Come see what’s new at Mary Sherwood Lake Living!  We’re waiting for you!


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

Categories : Design, Showroom, What's New!
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Do you give a “Hoot” about your decor?

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Our feathered friends are steadily increasing in trend and popularity. Peacocks, cardinals, parrots, and toucans are all soaring into view.  Yet of all these creatures of flight, owls have swooped in and stolen the spotlight.  Don’t expect this trend to slow down anytime soon, owls are here to stay!

owl, fabric, home decor, spring

Owls can be found in almost everything from home decor including wallpaper and fabric to clothing and accessories.  Owls are a symbol of intelligence, so of course following this trend is a smart choice indeed.  Try using owls on your mantel,  included in a centerpiece or on a side table.

owl decor, spring, turquoise, fuschia owl plush, children, stuffed, spring

 Owls have always played a significant role in fairytales and folktales as symbols of knowledge and wisdom, which makes these feathered friends ideal for decorating a child’s room.   Whether it’s through wall accents, bedding, or a cuddly, plush toy, it will make any little one smile.

Owls are no longer simply associated with fall.  Owls are popping up as Christmas ornaments, as Spring decor with bright colors, and even as Valentines Day inspiration, which puts a new twist on the saying “love birds”.

Remember the early bird gets the worm, so don’t be afraid to bring these great feathered friends into your home.  It will have your friends hootin’ and hollerin’ over your space!


Interior Design Intern

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

Categories : Design
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Last night my husband said to me, “you have logged a lot of miles in the last few weeks”.  It made me stop and think about how much had happened in three short weeks.  Here is the timeline:

Dec 20 -28     Roundtrip-Lake Gaston to Santa Monica, CA        5580 miles

Jan 4-6          Roundtrip-Lake Gaston to Baltimore, MD                698 miles

Jan 9-13        Roundtrip-Lake Gaston to Atlanta, GA                   902 miles

The first trip was our holiday trip to visit our son’s home in Santa Monica.  What a wonderful place to spend Christmas.  There is no worry of snow to interfere with travel (except occasionally at a connecting airport).  My daughter-in-law, Elif and I traveled with the top down in her Mini Cooper, named Coco, every outing for groceries and shopping!   I love the casual yet sophisticated lifestyle of Southern California. Here is a picture of some of the highlights of our holiday.  Love, love, love California succulent gardens!



The next trip came oh so quickly after we returned from Cali.  Our good friends, Brenda and Quinn moved into a brand new house just north of Baltimore right before Christmas.  They are still trying to get settled. The workers are still in and out.  We traveled with our trailer full of furniture, accessories and window treatments to help give it the “moved-in” look.  Here are just a few pictures of the fun color pallet Brenda selected.  The colorful Company C furniture fits right in!

Baltimore MD, Company C furniture, decorating with color, Kravet fabric, draperies


We are still recovering from our annual January Atlanta market trip.  The above mileage does not include the miles and miles of market space we walked.  There are about 7 million square feet of showroom space!  It’s no wonder our feet hurt and everything aches after four-12 hour market days!  There are so many things we fell in love with that will be arriving in our store over the next four months.  Here is a picture of just a few of my favorites.

Americasmart, Atlanta, owl accessories, summer 2013, beach cover-ups, handbags, Mary Sherwood Lake Living



We are off to a flying start in 2013.  Jump on board and join us on Facebook, follow our blog and stay tuned for the latest at MSLL!

What would be your favorite adventure of the above three?

Happy 2013!


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

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MSLL Trend Spot 2013

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We are always on the hunt for new directions in home interiors.  So what are the newest trends for the home in 2013?

Our staff shops the major markets and reads various design blogs and home magazines to find the new looks to bring to our showroom and into your homes at Lake Gaston.

Here is a sneak peek at some of the top emerging trends we have spotted for 2013:

COLOR – Intense colors are still very prevalent, but will give way to softer pastel shades later in 2013.  We are not afraid to incorporate bright colors in interiors based on the style and preference of our clients.  Color is the spice of life for a room, so feel free to use it.  Brights add sparkle and energy to a space.  Softer pastels pair well with the current grey neutrals.

Although Pantone has announced the Color of the Year for 2013 is Emerald Green, the major player at recent markets has been Cobalt Blue.  An example is Benjamin Moore’s 2066-20 Evening Blue which is a clear blue without hints of green.

Evening Blue

PATTERN – Geometrics and chevrons are a big emerging look in table linens, pillows, bedding, accents, and wallcovering.  Think about these new geometrics as updated stripes.  Use these patterns as accents to create a fresh look.

chevron, pillows, pattern

GLITZ AND GLAM – Brushed nickel and steel metal finishes are giving way to the increased use of yellow metals- hammered, polished, or antiqued.  We are still testing the waters with these new finishes and are mixing a lot of multicolored metals in a space.  Mirrors, picture frames, lamp finials, and small decorative accessories are a great way to introduce the golden finishes.

glitz, glam, metal

WOOD – Wood finishes have been getting lighter the past few years.  This year, we will see more pale woods, washed finishes, and reclaimed woods.  Kitchen cabinetry will be lighter.  Light paint finishes washed in grey and blond finishes will dominate.  To incorporate a little of this trend consider an accent table of reclaimed wood or a bamboo accessory.

washed, wood, reclaimed

How will you use some or all of these new trends?  I believe the home interiors industry is ever-changing to give the consumer more options for a new look.  We need to use discretion in following trends which seem to move faster each year.  Start by sampling small elements of a “trendy” design concept to help mix up your space.  Jump on board with more of the new look if you are really in love with it and want to live with it for several years.  Your home and your space should reflect you regardless of the trends!


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

Categories : Design
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Family and My Christmas

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I am getting ready to travel to one of my favorite places, “Santa” Monica, because that is where I will share Christmas with both our sons and two daughters-in-love.  It should be a great week!  Our times together involve a lot of relaxing, eating and sharing stories with the newer members of our family.  It doesn’t matter where we are, we always find these times together so special.

Last night reminded me of what an incredible acquired family I have right here at Lake Gaston.  We had a Christmas dinner at our house for all the MSLL family.  The wonderful, talented people who surrounded me are truly amazing.  It makes it such a pleasure to come to work each and every day.

Paul, Autumn, Lu, Michelle, Peggy and Yvonne thanks so much!

The rest of my acquired family is every one of you who has supported us, shopped in our showroom, cooked in our new kitchen and asked us to help make your home a comfortable, family place.  We have gotten to know you and your family and friends.  The circle just keeps getting bigger. Thank you for enlarging our family!

Make this a holiday to remember with your family whether acquired or by nature.

Here are a few pictures of our MSLL Christmas party.

Christmas, table setting, centerpiece, place settings, napkins, greenery

The Table is Ready!

Christmas,place setting, napkins, twelve days of Christmas, napkin holiday decoration

Each place with a Twelve Days of Christmas glass so all can sing!

Christmas, place settings, napkins, snowflake ornament

Napkins embellished with snowflake ornaments for guests to take home!

Party, acquired family, cocktails

Gathering together!

Holiday dinner, candlelight, friends, family

Enjoying a fabulous meal prepared by Chef Yvonne of Y Cook!

Food, Y Cook, scallops, cured beef tenderloin

The incredible food prepared by Chef Yvonne.

Menu, Y Cook

Our menu by Chef Yvonne and topped off by Steve Hoffman’s “melt in your mouth” Cheesecake with Cherry Zabaglione Sauce. WOW!

Have a wonderful holiday!

Merry Christmas!



Working with you to create your lifestyle!



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Top This! Winner Announced

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Thanks to all of our contest entrants for voting for their top pick in the Mary Sherwood Lake Living Top This! contest. The countertop choices were recycled glass, granite, bamboo, and stainless. The Vetrazzo® recycled glass countertop beat out granite by 5 votes for top honors, with bamboo coming in third and stainless last.

vertrazzo counter top

Through the random drawing, Krystal Carter was awarded as contest winner and the recipient of a $50 MSLL gift card. Congratulations to Krystal and thanks again to all for voting & commenting!

Some of our favorite comments regarding the countertop winner:

Brian’s Steak House
“Recycled is the way to go! We always don’t do the best we can by recycling, but this is a way everyone can do something! Love the diversity! Used to be a granite fan, but like this better!”

Jackie Greene
“Recycled materials! Hooray and sooo cute…would love this in a beach house bath. FUN!”

Judy Stanley
“Really love the idea of recycling and saving the enviornment from waste. It is the right thing to do.”

For more comments and the full voting rundown, please visit


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

Categories : Design, Kitchen design
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Do you want to know Designer Secrets?

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Every designer has their own “little secrets” for making their projects shine!  Recently I found these 101 Designer Secrets in the May, 2012 issue of House Beautiful magazine to be quite interesting.

Here are my top five picks.  What are yours?

#11        The ideal height to hang your flat screen TV is at eye level when you’re in viewing position.  The ideal viewing distance is 1 ½ times the size of your flat screen.  Designer: Jean Larette

#29        Dining Room Chandeliers should be 60” to 66” above the floor.  Designer: Betsy Burnham

#35        I get bored without color in a room.  Interesting, strong, clear colors are easier to live with in the long run than pale colors.  People always think it’s the opposite, but in actuality soft colors get boring much quicker.  Designer: Richard Keith Langham

#41        Limit overhead can lighting to functional areas such as bathrooms and laundry rooms—the light is too harsh and flat for your living space.  Designer: Timothy Corrigan

#55        When ordering fabric, add two yards to the final order.  You never want to be stuck with a ruined cushion and a discontinued fabric on a piece of upholstery. Call it insurance against a rainy-red-wine day.  Designer J. Randall Powers


Click on the block below to read all the 101 secrets!  Please comment with your favorites!

HINT: Press the control key and + key together several time to enlarge the image.

A special thanks to Eva, from House Beautiful reader services, for providing the pdf. file of the secrets.



Mary Sherwood Lake Living

Working with you to create your lifestyle!



Categories : Mary's Raves
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Swing into Summer…

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Love the fabrics and the ropes! Photo from This Old House

Just imagine. It’s a quiet, lazy afternoon at Lake Gaston. You are worn out from a busy work week and it’s time to relax. Grab your book and head to the porch or covered deck, climb into your porch swing bed and your week’s demands just fade away. Get the picture?

Remembering my grandmother’s front porch swing makes this new swing version so appealing to me. There are many different varieties and styles. I love the idea of mixing outdoor fabrics, colors and patterns to create your own outdoor look. Here are a few of my favorites.

Show your patriotic colors. Photo by PB

Double Swing Bed Duty Photo from Coastal Living

Modern Porch Swing

Porch bed swings are one of my favorite new trends. I am “dreaming” of where I may use one of these!
If you do not have the space or budget for the swing bed there are other options to help you relax in motion. The “front porch” swing styles have evolved with many choices of wood, wicker, metal or poly-wood. Add your cushions for comfort and color and you have created your own outdoor oasis.

Comfy swing chair for the garden by Magnolia Casuals

A smaller and comfortable swing option is the fabric swing chair.  It is available in a wide variety of colorful outdoor fabrics.

Once you have selected your way of “swinging into summer” here are a few tips to get a longer life out of your outdoor swing cushions or any outdoor fabric products:

  1. Use outdoor fabrics made of 100% acrylic or 100% spun polyester fiber. There are several types of outdoor fabrics with Sunbrella solution dyed acrylic being the industry leader. Please note that outdoor fabrics are water repellant not water proof.
  2. Never leave your outdoor cushions out when expecting excessive rain. Although outdoor fabrics are meant to stand up to all weather conditions, saturating the fabric with water will make the cushions harder to dry.
  3. Outdoor cushions can be made with fast-draining marine foam if they will remain outside for long periods to decrease drying time and help prolong their life.
  4. Most outdoor fabrics are mildew resistant; however, mildew will grow on dirt and oil. Keep your fabrics clean by using a solution of liquid dish detergent and warm water to clean away dirt and dust.
  5. For stubborn stains on Sunbrella fabrics, add bleach to the soap and water solution, or use a fabric spot remover. Sunbrella acrylic fabrics are not damaged by bleach.
  6. Stains on printed acrylic fabric can usually be removed with a mild soap-and-water solution. Do not use bleach on printed acrylic fabrics, as it will fade the printed pattern.
  7. Keep suntan oil off the fabric. Suntan oil can stain outdoor fabrics. If stained with suntan oil, remove by using a commercial spot remover for grease stains. Follow the instructions on the bottle.
  8. Try to put your patio cushion away when not in use. Storing your outdoor cushions will increase the time your fabric stays new and vibrant. Take your cushions in for winter, then let them back out again for summer.

Here are some helpful links for more different swing bed style and a DIY video about constructing your own outdoor bed!


Happy swinging and outdoor “Lake Living”!



Now you see it, now you don’t!

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Summer at Lake Gaston is quickly approaching. With summer come visits from lots of family and friends.  That’s what lake living is all about.

 Where, oh where do you bed down all these visitors?

 With the use of a Murphy convertible bed you can create a multifunctional space that helps to ease the sleeping predicament.  

Murphy bed, convertible sleep, extra sleeping space

Now you see it...instant guest sleeping space!

Murphy bed, extra sleeping space, multifunctional room, conversion rooms

Now you don't...sleeping space hidden behind closed doors!

Murphy bed, guest bed,

Now you see it! Hidden bed all ready for guests!

Murphy bed, decorative shelving, hidden bed

Now you don' one would ever know that behind these decorative shelves lies a bed in waiting!

Do you have a need for extra sleeping space?  Where would you like to incorporate a Murphy bed?

Let’ hear your comments!


Categories : Design, Mary's Raves
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The Orchid Trail

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As most of my readers know I have a love for all things with flowers…growing them, decorating with them and enjoying them! But I became a real fan of orchids about ten years ago when I was given my first orchid plant by my very good friend and neighbor, Nancy.  The first time it re-bloomed I was ecstatic! This has lead me to this place and time where this orchid trail begins. About a month ago with our good friends, Brenda and Quinn, we made a day trip to the Philadelphia International Flower Show. (Please don’t tell any of Paul’s motorcycle friends that he went to a “flower show”)  All I can say is WOW!  There are so many fabulous things I could tell you about this exhibition.  But I will focus on the magnificent orchid display for this post.  Click on this link to view a short video of the greenhouse: Orchid Greenhouse at the Philadelphia Garden Show

After viewing the fabulous array in Philly I was not satisfied with my few healthy, re-blooming Phalaenopsis orchids and a few other orchids that looked very pitiful.  Local resources for orchids are limited.  So as Paul’s birthday present to me we embarked on an orchid trail.  We already had plans to rendezvous with Paul’s brother in DC for his birthday so we plotted our trail from DC to Lake Gaston.  Somewhere on our way back home we were going to buy my birthday present.  As luck would have it, our first stop  in Vienna, VA was a winner.  Orchids For You,  a cute little orchid showroom, was tucked backed in a retail/commercial  office district, which seemed an unlikely spot for an orchid greenhouse.  As we walked in I was amazed at what was inside.  After discussing my home environment with Tom, the knowledgeable owner, we decided Phalaenopsis (the easiest orchid to grow) was definitely my kind of orchid.  It likes bright light and “semi-attention”, that is, watering only when it is almost dry if it is potted in a bark/moss medium.  Paul and I began to make our selections.  Paul, being color blind, reacts to flowers so differently than I do.  I never dreamed I would be orchid shopping with Paul.  Over the many years of our partnership in life we have each come to respect each other’s interests.  No, I am not ready to travel on the back of his motorcycle but I do enjoy our discussions about his next motorcycle trip or his next motorcycle gadget (to some degree).  As well he has come to appreciate and enjoy my love of flowers and gardening.  So without further ado I present the treasures of our orchid trail adventure.  Needless to say, we never stopped at the other greenhouses on the trail.  We’ll save them for another day. Hope you enjoy!

Phalaenopsis, orchid, purple, white, large

Harlequin Phalaenopsis-My First Choice

Phalaenopsis, orchid, yellow, pink, flower

Kaleidoscope Pink/Yellow Phalaenopsis-Paul's First Choice


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Epidendrum Max Valley-had to try this red one!!!


lady slipper, orchid,Paphiopedilum,supersuk eureka,raisin pie

Lady Slipper, Paphiopedilum Supersuk Eureka Raisin Pie, getting ready to open


orchid, phalaennopsis, epidendrum, paphiopedilum, flowers, orchid,garden,spring flowers,anemoneshybrids,

My orchid family and a few spring blooms from the garden!!! They look pretty happy so far!

Send me your favorite orchid pictures and stories.  Let’s continue this orchid trail!

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


Categories : Gardening, Mary's Raves
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Slipping and sliding into the New Year!

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Time flies when you are having such a good time!   Just a little over a week ago we were slipping and sliding into Atlanta to attend the January market.

ice, Atlanta market, Atlanta

Slip, sliding away!

We started our first day at market with a “man on the street” interview with Susan Dickenson, retail editor for Home Accents Today magazine.

Home Accent Today magazine, man on the street at Atlanta market, Lake Gaston girls

Autumn, Lu, Traci and Mary at Atlanta market

She grabbed several retailers to get a sense of the retail climate and their market plans. Thanks Susan for including us in your daily market issue. Read our comments and those of other retailers:

At this market we plan our showroom strategy for the New Year.  Color is an important element in our showroom so we always reference the Pantone Color of the Year.  The color for 2011 is Honeysuckle, a bright, saturated pink.

pantone, color for 2011, pantone color of the year, honeysuckle

Love the Pantone Color of the Year for 2011

As we purchase for spring and summer we select items that coordinate with this year’s new color.  This really helps us focus on accessories and gifts that are color forward.  If you are interested in learning more about Pantone’s2011 color forecast check out this link:

color, decorative tabletop, turquoise, pink, red, festive, floral, ceramics

Festival of table top color!

Funny Faces for Summer

Ah, Spring!

Ah, Spring!

Another big purchase category on our list is Holiday.  The January market introduces the new looks for 2011.  We develop a plan for how many trees, what themes and what colors we will use.  Purchasing in January guarantees we will be able to receive our selections by late summer and avoid sold out items. The use of large ornaments and objects on trees with a focus on one prominent color is one new emerging trend.

holiday color 2011, pink, turquoise, large ornaments

Color forward thinking for Holiday 2011!

holiday 2011, whimsy, Christmas accents, new for 2011, large ornaments

Whimsical elves and large ornaments are big for Holiday 2011

This market also is our source for our summer fashion accessories, apparel and shoes.  Here is a sneak peak of some of the new looks!

clutch,purse, rose floral accents, bright colors.

Rose wristlet clutch in bright colors. The "new" accessories for spring 2011.

coverup, flip flops, beach bags

Outfits for fun in the sun!

To cap off our shopping frenzy we taste and select new gourmet food items.  This is good and bad.  Great to find new product but hard to go through the many food displays and be selective with what you sample.

vegetables, canned vegetables. pretty vegetables, gourmet foods, tasty

Yummy, colorful, healthy and pretty...could these veggies be good for you too?

Market is an exhilarating experience!  New products, new colors, new styles always start the design juices flowing.  Tired bodies, tired minds and achy feet must be worth it because we keep going back.

travel, baggage, Atlanta

Glad we didn't have to push this load through market. Four women just don't know how to travel "light"!

You can experience a little of our market experience through our blogs and Facebook posts without the physical and mental strain.

Did you see the “Honeysuckle” color keep poping up in these pictures?

Tell us your favorites of our new products to arrive over the next few months!

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Moving on to Install Day 2 we concentrated on the guest bedroom/home office in the MBR wing of the house.  Our previous post told you a little about our client and the house.  If you missed the first day’s events check out our blog:  “This is What the Lake Gaston Girls Do in Dallas.”   With the master bedroom basically complete  we focused on to the guest bedroom/home office. This space is to function both as the small, comfortable private retreat/computer space for the owners and transform into a well- appointed guest room when needed.


In this space we dealt with the window that grew (mentioned in our last post)! Autumn, very skillfully, stretched the window treatment by adding a panel to the rear to make it 5″ wider. The treatment is a “faux” (or fixed) roman shade. We embellished the bottom with trim and hand-made buttons by  NC potter, Courtney Tomchik.



With the use of a Murphy bed this space can switch easily into a place for guests. This was the room I stayed in during our visit.   I actually slept with Mr. Murphy…the bed that is! 🙂 It is amazing how easily it converts!  What a great solution for a multi-use space.  Below are pictures in this order: the closed Murphy bed with four sets of bookcases, the Murphy bed frame behind the two center bookcases, and the Murphy bed ready to bed down guests. The bookshelves in this Murphy unit are crying for accessories.  That will have to happen on our next visit!




To complete the space we added two very comfy Four Season swivel-glider slipcovered chairs!  The slipcovers make the seating very pet friendly for the two dogs, Q-ee and Lew-ee!  A small, mobile laptop desk, flat screen TV and small shelf for the receiver complete the owner’s retreat.

Guest Bedroom/ Home Office-Owner's Retreat


The owner’s comment:  “I love this space!  I’m not sure I want to share it with guests!

Hope you like this space!  Tell us what you think!

More areas of the Dallas project to be revealed in our next post.


“Working with you to create your lifestyle at Lake Gaston and beyond.”

Categories : Design, Mary's Raves
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This job is so much fun!  Autumn and I recently traveled to Dallas, TX. completing the first phase of a third project for this client.  Overall, everything went very well.  For our client the most important part of this first phase was the master bedroom and guest bedroom/home office.  This new home was precipitated by the decision to move the owner’s mother and special needs sister under one roof.  It was selected because it was all on one level and could accommodate the extended family in a separate wing. As a model, used by the builder for a sales office, the before pictures reflect that usage.

The house is a wonderful structure filled with many windows, high ceilings and interesting arches.  Our job was to blend and re-purpose existing accessories and furniture, add window treatments to allow view and privacy and create a comfortable and safe environment for all. Here are pictures of the master bedroom suite. (Please excuse the photography the very high ceilings and wonderful windows challenged this amateur photographer.)

















The logistics of such a project are a real challenge. They involve a lot of planning and even more communicating to make sure everything arrives on time and in good shape.  (We actually contracted with two different delivery services to make it all happen.)  There were a few snags.  The drapery hardware, shipped direct to the client, was incorrect and incomplete.  A local drapery installer we hired (thanks Larry, great job!), was able to find parts but those parts meant a trip into Dallas (about 35 miles).  The second obstacle was a window in the Guest Bedroom/Home Office that had grown by 5” in width because of a framed interior shutter installed by the contractor — after we had measured.  With Autumn’s creative talent and the use of the client’s sewing machine the window treatment was modified to work.

The only other limitation was the lack time.  We worked non-stop for 2 ½ days and completed most of this phase of the project.

The client is thrilled!

Our next post in this series will show the Guest Bedroom/Home Office area.

Please comment and let us know what you think!



“Working with you to create at yourlife at Lake Gaston and beyond!

Categories : Design, Mary's Raves
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Paul and Mary off to sunny Cali!

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Just wanted to say,”Hi”.  I haven’t had much to say lately…been too busy…my wife’s been working me too hard!!  Now, Mary and I are getting ready for a Christmas trip to the west coast to visit with our two sons and their significant others.  Mary’s gotten us great travel arrangements:  direct flights both east and west…so Thursday night we drive to Charlotte and Friday its off to the “left coast”.  Big plans…meeting our older son’s girlfriend…having Christmas…renting a motorcycle for a day.

This is a great time of year and one thing I don’t want to forget is to thank all of you for the interest you’ve shown in what Mary and I have going on.  Between your responses to the social networking and your presence in our lives (read “store”) we have much to appreciate.

Mary and I wish all of you the happiest of holidays and we’ll be back from LA with stories to tell!

Our last Christmas in Santa Monica

Categories : Paul's Rants
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Yesterday we had a crowd of people in and out of our store to take in the “sparkle, excitement, shopping, food and friends” at our annual Christmas Open House.  The “buzz” that circulated the showroom was amazing!  People came for all sorts of reasons. Some came for the chance to learn some quick holiday decorating ideas.  Others came for the tasty food samplings and recipes.  Others were just enjoying an annual “girl’s weekend out”.  And of course there was shopping .  Our customer’s little red shopping baskets were full to the brim.  The hottest item was a silver garland spray with multicolor ball ornaments that we used in the seminar to adorn a wreath and a tablescape.  That item was the first to sell out.  The second popular item was the “water pearls” in both clear and red.  The use of “water pearls” was shown in several glass vessels during the seminar.

Christmas, Open House, food, friends, shopping, seminar, sparkle, mantel decor, twilight display, holiday wreaths, glass balls, shinny silver,candlesticks

Snowy mantel scape with lights that simmer in glass balls and silver candlesticks by Traci

This year, due to popular demand, we brought back the holiday decorating seminar after a five year hiatus… with a few changes.  Limited admissions assured us all would have better opportunity to see the presentation as well as a safer environment.  The seminar included tips on holiday wreaths, mail box swag, mantel scapes, table top ideas and the multiple uses for water pearls. Thanks to those who took the time to listen to our program.  We hope you learned a few new ideas to help you this holiday season.

Christmas, Open House, attendees, food, friends, shopping, seminar, sparkle, smiles

Seminar attendees awed by the the holiday decor presentation

Our food supply dwindled fast.  We may need to increase the quantity for next year. You are a  hungry bunch!  🙂 We are glad you enjoyed the food buffet.

Red Hat Ladies, buffet, Moroccan Meatballs, Christmas, Open House, food, friends, shopping, seminar, sparkle

Red Hat Ladies enjoying the wonderful buffet samplings!

Here is one of the recipes:

Moroccan Road Infused Turkey Meatballs

Make a large batch to have on hand for unexpected holiday guests.  Prepare in advance and freeze extras.
3 lbs ground turkey
3 eggs
1 large white onion
4 cloves of garlic
1 cup Italian herbed or plain dried bread crumbs
8 tbsp ketchup
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
9 tsp olive oil
3 tsp salt
4 tbsp Moroccan Road Spice Blend
Chop onion & garlic finely, place all ingredients in large bowl, hand mix
Scoop turkey with small stainless steel scoop so they lay flat on pan.
Bake 350 degrees about 20 minutes until brown.  Lift off with metal spatula.
Place extras in Tupperware container and refrigerate or freeze, place back in oven to reheat.
Garnish with half grape tomato and lemon cream cheese secured with toothpick.

Compliments of Mary Sherwood Lake Living  Christmas Open House 2010

Thanks again to everyone involved in such a wonderful day!

Please give us your comments and help us make it even better next year!


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And the Winners are…

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We are pleased to announce we have two winners of our “We showed you ours, now show us yours…Pumpkin that is” decorating contest.

Sue Williams and Ivon Hauenstein tied for first place.

We are so pleased they submitted their entries.

Each will receive a $50 MSLL gift card.

Let me tell you their stories…

Sue has been a faithful supporter of Mary Sherwood Lake Living for many years. She always greets us with a big hello and hug!  We first met through her Pampered Chef parties some 20 years ago and  I am still using many items in my kitchen thanks to Sue.  Over the years Sue has volunteered her time in support of many local causes.  She also is a person with incredible creative energy. She has worked in many different arts and crafts mediums.  She submitted her entry very early on after we announce the challenge.  We were so pleased to have her as our first contestant.

pumpkin, decorating, contest, creative

Sue's Boo Ya'll Pumpkin

Ivon ‘s story is entirely different.  We had not met Ivon prior to this endeavor. He was told of the Pumpkin Decorating contest by his neighbor, Paula Wood.  Ivon was very interested in submitting an entry but wanted to wait until close to the deadline so his pumpkin would be “freshly” carved.  As the deadline approached his energy diminished but his desire to enter did not.  Encouraged by his friend, he and Paula decided to give it a go.  The day of the deadline, Paula called in his intention to enter.  She was helping him with the carving but didn’t know if they could bring it to MSLL by the end of the day.  I told her not to worry and submit it as soon as possible so we could publish the winner.

pumpkin, pumpkin carving, Halloween, creative, tools, scary,

Ivon and Paula with their spooky pumpkin!

The next morning, escorted by Paula, Ivon presented his pumpkin entry.  It was a pleasure to have him want to participate and become so excited by the challenge.  Paula says:  “This pumpkin carving contest has really  been a boost for him.”  Thank you, Paula for making it happen.

Each day I am truly amazed at how important it is to be “connected”.  Connections make it possible to be a positive difference in someone’s day.  That’s what Sue and Ivon did for me.


Let’s stay connected!

Best regards,


Working together to create your lifestyle here at Lake Gaston and beyond!

Categories : Mary's Raves
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How are Lake Gaston and Dallas connected?

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Many years ago a client walked into our showroom at Lake Gaston and ordered several decorative pillows for a child’s guest room.  They were red, black, yellow and white to go with a Mickey Mouse theme.  This one little job has turned into many!  Now several houses later, Autumn and I leave on another adventure.  We are off to Dallas to help this client and her husband, (now good friends) prepare a new home to accommodate the recent re-location of their extended family.  The new property looks fabulous in photos and we are very excited to have the opportunity to make it into a comfortable and safe environment for four adults and three dogs!

Texas, new construction, Lake Gaston, window treatment,

Some ask:  “How do you approach a long distance project like this?  In jest, my answer is:  “With a good tape measure, very accurate notes and lots and lots of pictures.”    It’s a little too far away to go back to check a measurement!

We have done many long distance projects with no major problems and only a couple of minor ones.  There will always be small obstacles like drilling into steel re-enforced concrete to install draperies at a hurricane-proof Gulf coast project or curtain rods that arrive from the factory incorrectly configured.  There have been many broken drill bits and, of course, the closest home improvement store has sometimes been 30 miles away.   Because our customers are so loyal and so much fun, the only real challenge is overcoming the stumbling blocks, adjusting to the  unexpected and having a “can do” attitude.

Our “very” big bag is packed, just coming in under the weight limit. Whew!  It is chock full of fabric samples and pillows to help set the stage for this new project.

Look for future posts about the “Mary and Autumn Do Dallas” project.   While we are away come meet our newest part of the team, Traci Watson. Hope she has what it takes to keep Paul in line!  Don’t forget to ask Paul for his “custom gift wrap”.

Enjoy this beautiful fall weather at Lake Gaston and beyond.


Categories : Design, Mary's Raves
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