It’s not a garden without a gnome…

I don’t think I could ever live in a community where garden art is not allowed. Garden art makes me smile. Garden art makes me happy. It’s unexpected. It’s like finding treasure in the landscape.

The latest addition to our little urban landscape are some fairy tale mushrooms. These are a birthday gift from my mom. It’s a little early by several months, but she said I could open my gift and enjoy them sooner than later – so I did. Thanks Mom! They create a nice little story book forest for my one and only gnome. After all, it’s not a garden without a gnome.


I don’t know why everybody doesn’t decorate their yard with garden art.


Our neighborhood is full of garden art/yard art inspiration…

This nearby garden amuses me.  These people have serious you know what.  I am not sure I could pull off this much garden art. What I like about this yard is that it is… well, un-natural… seriously un-natural.  And, I kind of like the idea that the neighbors are probably somewhere between oddly fascinated and on the verge of being appalled by this scene.  They’ve got everything – a tree dressed up like a hula girl, an entire gnome village, little wheelbarrows for the gnomes, frogs, statues, faux flowers, and more. It’s crazy!


At the other extreme, is the restrained approach to garden art.  Look closely – it is a single, small gnome overlooking this yard. I find it funny. I love the minimalism.


We live in Bronco country (as in the Denver Broncos) so a neighborhood is not complete without some sort of tribute to the Broncos. Go orange and blue!


These panels that screen a garage wall make a large, cool artistic statement…


It happens that I have a piece of outdoor art made by the same local neighborhood artist…


I aim to keep my garden art/yard art style somewhere between tasteful (but not snooty) and fun (but not completely over the top tacky)…

Previously, I’ve shown (and talked about) the kinetic art decorating our outdoor courtyard.

Outdoor art

It can also be seen from inside the house. It is located in the perfect spot because even the slightest breeze sends it spinning.


Probably the most talked about piece of garden art we have is the big red piranha we procured years ago from an artist in the neighborhood. He’s got a little rust going on but that’s ok with me. He is located in a special spot where we can see him from our outdoor courtyard and from our mudroom inside as we sit on the bench to put on/take off our shoes. On a bit of a side note, this piranha looks like someone I know.  I wish I could show you pictures side by side the piranha – I think you would agree. It’s wild – same eyes, same mouth, and same teeth…


The big bird out front was a gift from Tad a few years ago.  It’s wispy and whimsical.  I still get up every morning, push up the front shade, and check to make sure my big bird is still out front.


Last fall I moved a big granite egg out near the big bird because it seemed like a natural pairing. The egg is hidden under the ornamental grasses in the summer and re-discovered every winter when the plantings die back. I like that. I like things that are unexpected and a surprise – things that are hidden amongst the shrubs, grasses, and in the corners.


You’ve also seen the requisite flamingo peeking out from my willow shrub when I was organizing my south side garden last fall. Flamingos are expected as yard art so the unexpected part of having a flamingo is that you wouldn’t think I would have one because it is expected. That might not make sense. Nonetheless, I’ve got a flamingo and I am proud of it…


Less whimsical, but still interesting is our abstract rectangle!  Can you believe this was free to me? Yes – it was free to me! Nobody wanted it, so I accepted it. You can’t beat free!


As mentioned earlier, I like things that are waiting to be discovered in the shrubs, grasses, and in the corners.

I’ve got a few frogs…



Creatures in the strawberry patch…




An airplane mixed up in the grapes…


A few faces in the corner…


Finally, we’ve got a pig on the farm side of the yard…


Life is too short to go without garden art. Add some fun to your life. Get a gnome.

Refresh – a bedroom paint color?

What do you think about Refresh as a paint color for a bedroom?

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Here’s the story. Everything’s got a story, doesn’t it? I don’t know why. It just does. Anyway, back to the story…

Tad’s family has a lot of people involved at Christmas. Because there are so many people, we pick names for a gift exchange. That way we only have to come up with one gift rather than a dozen or so. I like it. The funny thing is that I often end up picking Tad’s mom’s name. This last year was no different. My little Secret Santa paper, picked at Thanksgiving, revealed Tad’s mom’s name – again.

I had a couple of gift options that I tossed around in my head. I eventually decided on the gift of a painted bedroom since she had been wanting a painted room for a while now. I wrapped up a few paint supplies and a paint color fan – with the promise to spend a day painting, once she decided on a color.

Four months later and more than 5 but less than 10 paint samples, a color was finally decided upon.

The decision: Sherwin Williams #6751, Refresh – as pictured above.

I was nervous about it.

It seemed kind of bright and reminiscent of a spring day. The emphasis being on bright and day.

I tend to like darker, moodier colors for bedrooms.  I feel like I sleep better when the room color is a bit darker and moodier.  I assume everybody else is the same?

I was surprised that anyone would want to paint their bedroom the color of Refresh. It is just so…bright.

I was nervous. Oh, sorry, I already mentioned that.

I tried to talk her into a darker color.  She wouldn’t go for it.

I tried manipulation in the form of a friendly threat – “Are you sure? I am only painting this room once, so you better be sure this is THE color…”  She wouldn’t budge.

I procrastinated a week or so thinking that she would come to her senses. She didn’t.

I called her from the paint store telling her I was buying the paint right then, and it was her last chance to bow out of Refresh. She said “I am going to stick with Refresh. See you on painting day.” That might not be an exact quote, but you get the gist.

I showed up at her house on painting day with the Refresh. There was no going back at that point.

Tad’s niece showed up while I was cutting in around the baseboards, windows, ceiling, etc with the Refresh.  She agreed to help out for a few hours. Thank goodness, because it was slow going up until that point. I was 5 or 6 hours into it and only had the prep, ceiling, and a really small amount of Refresh up.  I asked her opinion on the color. She was skeptical that it was the right color for a bedroom.

Now, there were two of us that were nervous.

Tad’s sister checked in. She was added to the nervous list.

Tad’s mom came to check on us. She said she liked it, but I got the feeling she was also a smidge nervous.

The nervous numbers were quickly growing. And – it was all about Refresh as a bedroom paint color.

Tad’s niece was dying to roll on the first wall of Refresh before she had to leave.

It was the single most surprising moment of the day! It looked great! It looked a lot darker up on the wall than it looked on the paint swatch. What a relief!  We both stood back and agreed that it was surprisingly lovely.

Refresh contrasts perfectly with the white ceiling and the white blinds.


Refresh is also a beautiful backdrop to her medium toned antique wood furniture.


Upon completion of this painting project, I told Tad’s mom that I was a Nervous Nellie about her color choice initially, but that I really liked it in the end.

She admitted that she was pretty nervous, as well, when she saw the first swaths of color going up.

It was enlightening…


The lessons learned:

  • Go with your gut. It is almost always right.
  • Don’t let someone else tell you what you want for your bedroom wall color. You know what you like.
  • This one is not a new revelation. We’ve all heard it before. Let’s call it a reminder. Paint always look darker than the paint swatch once it gets on the wall.
  • Easier said than done, but there is no need to be nervous about paint color. Just go for it.

So,  should Refresh be considered as a bedroom paint color? I am going to vote yes (obviously). It is nicely bright during the day and adequately dark and moody for sleeping at night.

Other People’s Projects – a mid century sneak peek…

Why do I love other people’s projects so much?

First, it is just plain fun to see and talk about other people’s projects. Mostly, it is a nice diversion from my own home improvement list, but I also love a good (and/or bad) house renovation story.

Second, I love to check out other people’s ideas. It’s motivating and can also help me solve some of my own project and décor issues.

Finally, I love to experience unique and different architectural styles. I especially enjoy styles that I will not likely get to experience first hand at any point in my life.

So, here we are today showing off our first “Other People’s Projects”…


Being that this project is a work in progress, this is just a little sneak peek of some of the cool details. Hopefully, we can go back and check progress in the future.

Ok – finally – about the house…

This house is a mid century modern ranch style home from the 1950s. The interesting thing is that this isn’t just any mid century modern.  It was designed by Cliff May (the visionary) and Chris Choate (the architect).  It sounds like Cliff May is considered a pioneer in the design of the California modern ranch home. This style of housing originated in California (which is likely why we call these houses “California Contemporary” around here). Cliff May wanted to find a way to mass produce homes that had “custom” features – and would be affordable to the general public.  Cliff & Chris came up with low cost ranch homes, made from modular parts, with interesting “custom” details, that could be configured in a variety of floor plans. We are lucky enough to have a neighborhood here in Colorado with a number of these homes.  I love the style but don’t feel like I am hip or cool enough to pull off mid century modern myself.  So, I am excited that I have friends who can pull it off!

Each modular part has this signature stamp on it.  I think it says “patent pending”. I suspect the patent is no longer pending after 60 some years later :)


Our friend’s house has all the features of a Cliff May/Chris Choate modular home – as it should – since it is a Cliff May/Chris Choate modular home.

Starting with the outside…

The private courtyard is situated between the house and the garage – accessed from the living room and from the master bedroom. I didn’t get a proper photo, but they’ve got a great courtyard – private, comfortable, bright.  It is still winter here in Colorado so the lounge furniture was all still stored, but you could tell that it is a really relaxing space. Hopefully, next visit will yield a full photo of this lovely area.


In the meantime, I snapped a few close ups of the new concrete pads and soft blue grey river rock that fill in between.  I love this look – all modern and zen.


They carried over this large scale concrete pad idea to the offset path that leads from the street to the front door.  Very modern day design – very cool.  You should also notice the new wood fence to the right.  The courtyard is behind that fence. Again, I am not sure why I didn’t get a big view of the whole thing – house, courtyard, and garage – again, will do next time. Anyway, the fences were originally made from the crates that the house parts were shipped in – reusing/recycling before it was trendy. This is a new fence, but I feel like this is how it should have been back in the day.


About the inside…

The ceilings are vaulted but not soaring – I like that.  The living space feels larger than it is with the vaulted ceiling and open space but still cozy and comfortable.


These glass gables are located at each end of the house (in the main living space and in the master bedroom). These triangular windows bring in a huge amount of natural light. The roof feels like it is floating above the exterior walls. Fun, fresh, airy, and bright.


Floor to ceiling windows and glass in the exterior doors allow the outdoor views in – again, making the interior space feel bigger than it really is.  Love that yellow door!


The homeowners aren’t going for historical accuracy – rather they are aiming for comfort and current day conveniences. With that said, all the updates they have made blend beautifully with the classic, architecturally significant characteristics of the house.

The kitchen is sleek with high gloss slab cabinetry, white quartz countertops, and stainless appliances and fixtures.  The minimalist design of the kitchen is perfect for open space living.  It is visible and pleasing but isn’t overwhelming when you enter the front door.


The bathrooms are small, but efficient.  I love the large scale tile.  The pop of that red vanity is the best!


If they would have had gas fireplace inserts back in the 50s, it would have looked just like this.  It is the perfect choice for this mid century modern gem of a house. And – the artwork is a striking focal point in an otherwise mostly neutral space.


The tidy, clean lined shades in the master bedroom filter the west setting sun. The pattern is simple and a nice complement to the outside courtyard view. Nice choice – in my opinion. And the shades look like they were made specifically to go with that art piece…


Finally, we arrive at the DIY peel and stick bamboo wall in the living room.  I love this wall.  I want this wall for my own.  However, it sounds like it wasn’t as easy to install as advertised.  They say it took about 45 minutes to just get the first row or two level and installed – because the wall is not square or straight – oh the joys of old houses.  I wasn’t there for the headache of installation, but I think it was well worth their time and effort.  It’s all soft and warm – and really, really nice…