Archive for September, 2011

Fun Finds

So, I’m a Lowe’s shopper, mainly due to the quality of customer service you get from them here in AZ.  But, I went to Home Depot recently and was taken by their array of spray paint colors!  I’ve searched high and low for certain colors, not going to HD because I assumed they’d have what Lowe’s had.   Boy did I miss out.

I’ll say upfront, all of these images were taken from my phone – sorry about the quality.



They even have fun Martha Stewart metallic and glitter finishes.


I found a great bathroom rug and few other odds and ends at Marshall’s.  Totally bought the rug.


Phone-013-2  Phone-014-2

Phone-015-2  Phone-018

Phone-021  Phone-022

Then off to a discount fabric store that carries out of stock fabrics.   You never know what they are going to have!  There are a lot of upholstery fabrics that you can make work for $5-15 a yard.





Phone-036  Phone-039


Phone-043  Phone-052

I just liked the ikat fabric on this bed in the store.


Wouldn’t some of these make fun curtains?


Do you have a favorite discount fabric store?

A quick stop at Big Lots.



Ending the day with a huge treat – a visit with friends and fries and a meat patty from In N Out – corn, soy and gluten free!  Brought my own mustard and ketchup.  That’s right.  I know, dorky.

Phone-024  Phone-026


Maybe some of these finds will make their way into your home.  How was your day?


Camera Settings 101

If you blog at all, you probably take photos for your blog.   And, you’ve probably at some point heard that you should turn off auto mode on your camera and start learning about your settings.  Well, settings can be confusing.

I want to share with you what I’ve learned so far about my camera settings.  I own a Canon Rebel T1i.  However, these tips should be able to be used with any camera that allows you to adjust settings.  Be prepared, this is a long and technical post.

You don’t have to have a dslr camera for this post to be helpful.

Let’s get started.  Go ahead, get your camera and manual out (right now, go get them).   You will want to look at them as we talk through the basic settings.

Exposure.   It is a fancy word for the amount of light that makes it into the sensor when you take a photo.  If the shot is exposed too long (over-exposed) the photograph will be washed out.  If the shot is exposed too short (under-exposed) the photograph will appear too dark.

Three settings help you control exposure – aperture or f-stop, shutter speed, and ISO.

A. Aperture/ F-Stop.  Aperture is simply the size of the lens opening that lets light into the camera.  While shutter speed is how long that is open, aperture is the size of that opening.  Apertures are measured in something called f/stops.  A very wide aperture is f/1.8 and a very small aperture is f/19. It seems counter intuitive since the smaller the opening, the larger the number.

But, think of it as cranking the shutters on a window to close it off.   With each crank, or f stop, it gets more closed off.  So more cranks, higher the f-stop and smaller the opening.

Why do you need both aperture and shutter speed (and even ISO) if they both control light?   I’ll talk more about shutter speed below, but for now, let’s answer that question regarding aperture.

Aperture controls the depth-of-field (DoF) which is what is in focus in the picture.  Aperture can be used to draw attention to one subject (like the flower below) by blurring the background.   A wide aperture (low f/stop) means the depth of field (or focus) isn’t far.


Aperture can also do the opposite.   It can help to focus everything in a picture if you use a narrow aperture (high f/stop).

B.  Shutter Speed.  Shutter speed is the amount of time the sensor is exposed to light.  How long the shutter (imagine the shutters on a house window) stays open is measured in seconds and more commonly fractions of a second. For instance, 1/2000 of a second is very fast and 8 seconds is extremely slow.   A slower shutter speed lets in more light.  This helps with the exposure.  So, if you cannot afford to use a lower f-stop for a wide opening, you may instead be able to use a slower shutter speed instead.

Another thing shutter speed affects is the capture of movement.  Shutter speed can be used to freeze movement if you use a fast speed or it can be used to blur water with a slow speed.

Below is an image that had slow shutter speed, thus allowing movement to blur. (Not taken with my new camera.  Only the flowers image above was taken with the new camera.)


And, below that, is an image taken, also not taken with my new camera that froze the movement of water.  It used a fast shutter speed.  It was taken of a fountain in Sedona, AZ.


C. ISO.   ISO is the sensitivity of the sensor as it collects light.  The common span of ISO speed is 100 to 1600.  The higher the ISO speed the more the camera collects light but it also adds more noise to the photograph than the lower speeds.  So, you don’t want to go too high on the ISO or your photo could look a little grainy.

I change the ISO a lot when in a dimly lit room, especially if I do not have a tripod.  If you lower the shutter speed, you usually want a tripod or your hands will shake and cause a blur.  Most of the time you should keep it at a lower ISO speed if there is enough light, but it makes a big difference when there isn’t.

Exposure Triangle.


Many times these three settings (ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed) are discussed as a triangle since one affects the next.  In other words if you let more light in through the ISO, then you may not need a slower shutter speed or lower f-stop.  But, if you let more light in through the aperture (f-stop) because you are focusing in on something close (a lower Depth of Field or DoF), then you may not need a higher ISO or slower shutter speed.  It’s a balancing act.

White Balance.

White Balance is an aspect of photography that many digital camera owners don’t understand or use – but it’s something well worth learning about as it can make the colors in your photos look more natural or accurate.

Have you ever taken photos of things that look normal in person, but on the photo the image is tinted strangely (blue, yellow or orange for instance) and you cannot get the colors just right?   The reason for this is that different sources of light have a different color “temperature” to them. For instance, fluorescent lighting adds a bluish tint to photos.

Below are three photos of the same thing.  The middle one is the one with accurate white balance.  Can you tell?  (Image from Digital Photography School.)


According to Digital Photography School, “We don’t generally notice this difference in temperature because our eyes adjust automatically for it. So unless the temperature of the light is very extreme a white sheet of paper will generally look white to us. However a digital camera doesn’t have the smarts to make these adjustments automatically and sometimes will need us to tell it how to treat different light.”

Digital cameras have different ways of adjusting white balance so you will need to look in your camera’s manual for exact instructions unless you own my same camera.  You can try the presets, but I recommend using a Manual White Balance Adjustment if you can’t seem to get the colors right.

In order to do this, you’ll need a blank white sheet of paper, or a white (or grey) card which is specifically designed for this task.

Take a photo of a piece of white paper.   Let it fill the frame.  This tells your camera what color white is for that room.  On my camera, I then go to the Menu and choose Custom WB.  From there, I choose Set and click OK.  Once that is set, I make sure the settings say to use Custom.  You will now notice the colors are more accurate!  You can further adjust in a photo editing software program like Adobe Lightroom should you need to do so.

Adjusting Exposure on Your Camera.

A.  AV Mode.  This is the Aperture mode.  You can adjust the aperture and ISO in this mode.  It will automatically adjust the shutter speed.

B.  TV Mode.  This is Shutter Speed mode.  You can adjust the ISO and shutter speed in this mode.  It will automatically adjust the aperture.

C.  Manual.  You can adjust all three.

Most often, I shoot on AV Mode.  I adjust ISO, aperture, and white balance while using that mode, most often.  The shutter speeds gets set automatically based on my other settings.

Side note.

Things can get much more complicated than this, but I’m hoping this will get you started.   I really like and have used it quite a bit to get a grasp of the basics.

Practice, practice, practice.  You’ll get better as you practice using these settings.

Quiz on the 3 sides of Exposure.

Now that you know how it works you can take over and make the decisions for yourself.  Let’s take a quick quiz.

1.  You are at a friend’s house, the light is dim. You have to hand hold your camera as you don’t have a tripod. Therefore you have set your shutter to 1/125s so it snaps a photo fast and doesn’t blur. You want a small aperture for a large depth of field to get the whole room in focus, you pick f/8.  You take a photo and it’s too dark.   How do you increase exposure and get more light into the image?   If you raise that setting too much, what is the concern?

2.  You are in your backyard and your kids are running through the sprinklers.  You want to freeze the motion of the kids and the water with little motion blur.  To make sure it’s all in focus, you use am aperture of f/12 and to make sure you get plenty of light, you use a moderate ISO, 400. Using the exposure triangle we can see the only way not have too much light is to do what?   This will also insure that the motion is frozen.

Leave your answers in the comments.  I’d also love to hear any other wisdom that you have on the topic.

Was this information helpful to you?


Our Bed and Quilts

I did this recent post about working with someone who purchased a quilt as a gift and wanted to design bedding around it and use it as a gift registry.

Well, until today, I forgot that we purchased our bed in late 2006 from a quilt store in Salt Lake City at Gardener Village.


I haven’t visited them or their site since, but browsed it today and was reminded of how great their quilts/ bedding is!

Quilts are part of Americana.  In the early days, the necessity of staying warm met the local fabrics and quilts were born.  They can be both practical and decorative.

At this little boutique, you can buy shams, dust ruffles or sort through racks of hanging quilts.  Let’s check out some of their made beds.

image   image


image  image



Pretty, huh?  So, if you live in the SLC area, you may stop by.  If you don’t, use it as a reminder to not forget the boutiques that may not sound like they will be your style. Maybe something here can serve as inspiration.


Giveaway Winner

The Bluebird Heaven giveaway winner is….


Sarah Yoder who happens to have a young blog called Life on Walnut Street.

Sarah wrote:

My favorite by far is the wooden bobbin hook rack
I love old wooden bobbins! I know just where I’d put this! Hope I win.

Well, you did win!  Congrats, Sarah!  Enjoy.


From Fan Wall Art to Sunburst

It’s so fun to get updates from e-design clients.  I love to see how they put their own spin on the design.  And, I love to see any diy projects that they did in the process.

This client was working on finding a sunburst mirror to go over her bed in her master bedroom.  The one we were originally going to use was a tiny bit too large. She remembered a piece of wall art that she already owned.


At 32 inches in diameter, the scale would work. Could this become a sunburst mirror?

It absolutely did.


She painted the brown tones gold.

Then, for less than $7, she bought the following items from Michael’s and created a framed mirror in the center.

- Embroidery hoops.  The outer embroidery ring is 7″ in diameter. The next inner embroidery ring is 6″ in diameter.
- Craft mirror.  It is 5″ in diameter.
- Plywood circle.  It is lightweight and only 1/8″ thick. It is 6 1/2″ in diameter.
- Paint from a previous project.
- Hot glue that she already had.

I think it turned out great!



Isn’t she doing a great job on the design?

She still plans to add a rug at the end of the bed, curtains, a floral bolster pillow, to paint the ceiling blue and a few other things.  But it has really come along!

To give you an idea of the blue and the bolster pillow.


Here is the before.


How do you think it’s shaping up?  Don’t you love how inventive she was with the sunburst mirror?  Doesn’t it look great?

And, don’t forget that today is the last day to enter the Bluebird Heaven giveaway!


Laundry Room Update and FLOR Tiles

Here is where the laundry room is right now.  The art is hung.  I have hung place holders for hooks and mirrors on each side of the symbol art.

It’s always good to tape things off before buying to get an idea of scale.  When it comes to things that hang on a wall, using packing paper is a great way of checking the scale and shape.

untitled shoot-002

I still need to get the hooks, mirrors, benches, chandy and rug.   So, I figured I would spend some time considering the type of rug I could get.  With the space being 19.5 feet long, it’s not easy to find a runner rug that accomodates the length of the room.  So, I am contemplating floor tiles.

Are you familiar with FLOR tiles?   Carpet tiles are a great way to create your own area rug size.  And, if you feel spills are inevitable, a single tile can be replaced which is more cost effective than replacing an entire rug.

I’m not 100%, but I’m thinking 7 of the 19.7 x19.7 inch tiles.   That will span approximately 11.5 feet which will leave 4 feet on each end uncovered.  But, just as I advise all clients, I will tape off the floor before ordering.

I love this pattern, but at $30 a tile, it may be a little too pricey for a laundry room.


These are also nice at $22 a tile.  But, again, I’d like to go a little cheaper if possible.


Of course, we could keep it simple with a solid.  It’s $21 a tile which is about 19.7 x19.7 inches.


At $15 a tile, this is nice.  It’s a soft and subtle pattern.


I really like the texture on this one for $13 a tile.  Aren’t those boots fab?


I really like these black ones at $10 a tile.  If I order 7, that is just $70.


And, it is a lot like my original drawing.  (Having said that, almost all designs will be tweaked between drawing and implementation.)


The company just released its new Fall collection.  Here are a few from that collection.

If you loved Target’s Missoni collection this one reminds me of it.




There is just about every color you can imagine and quite a number of patterns available.

I think my first step will be getting a sample so I can physically see it in the room.  Have you used FLOR tiles?  What did you think of them?  What would you use in my laundry room?


Love Chairs, But A Little Freaked Out

I love a good bargain but after seeing this recent episode of The Big Bang Theory (not my show, but my husband likes it), I think I may be staying away from any side of the road finds.


See that red chair?

Penny (the blonde) found this used chair on the side of the street and loved it and brought it up to her apartment.  Come to find out, later in the episode, there was something alive in the chair.  They imply a mouse.  You can see it moving around!  They ran screaming.  I would too.

It left me a little disturbed.

Perhaps you have a junk chair that you are ready to throw out, though (not pick up)?   Before you do, take a look at these chair redos.

Adding new paint and fabric to a chair is one of the quickest and most cost effective ways to spruce up décor.  Even if you aren’t ready to reupholster a wingback, recovering the seat of a dining chair is no big deal!

(Images link to sources.)

image  image



image  image

image  image

image  image

image  image

I love seeing these before and afters.  Makes me want to raid my house for a chair to redo.  Have you redone a chair?   Before you throw one out, consider what paint and fabric can do to revive it!

If you do bring something old into your house, please be sure to inspect it well and maybe even fumigate it.  :)


Gift Idea for Those Hard to Buy For People

Many families have trouble coming up with unique gift ideas.  I’m working with someone who was in the process of purchasing a pretty quilt.   It looked like this at the beginning.


One of my favorite designers, Sarah Richardson, uses quilts a lot in her country home designs.  I love both her usual sleek contemporary designs and her more country designs.


We tweaked the colors of the original quilt design a little so that it worked better for the gift recipient.  It’s handmade, so tweaking colors was not a big deal.

Then, we created a design board around the quilt.  The design board focuses on bedding.  The recipient enjoys country style, but we didn’t want to get kitschy.


She then took the design board and shopping list and presented it to others who were pitching in on the gift.  The shopping list acted as a registry of sorts for those who wanted to participate.  It turned out to be a great way to create a thoughtful gift that multiple households could participate in.

I thought with Christmas coming up, this could be a great idea for those hard to buy for people!

The shopping list is as follows.

1. Green floral pillow:
$42.50, needs a pillow insert, 12×22×22-decorative-lumbar

2. Purple pillows:
$30/ each plus cost of a pillow insert, 18×18?

3. Burlap Monogram pillow:
$35, plus insert, 18×18

4. Light gray or white sheets.
I’d look at places like TJ Maxx.   Double check what size they’d need.

5. Gray duvet.
Check Homegoods.  Steer away from shiny or quilted.  Just a simple solid.

6. Green lamps:
$50 each for the base.  Shades are about $20 each.  But, you may find something similar elsewhere.  Just pay attention to the scale and to color, as avocado green will work better than a lime green or kelly green.  You can even possibly buy something and spray paint it.

7. Curtains:
$55 a pair.  Stay in the white or off-white family should you choose an alternative.  In addition, you want them to almost touch the ceiling and hang to the ground.  So, these may be too short.  I didn’t get the dimensions of the room…  Always measure first.

If this may work for someone you love, contact me for a quote.

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway from Bluebird Heaven.