hello spring, hello color

We’re ready for another season of long, sunny days here in beautiful Cape May!  Spring has been a bit of a tease this year but honestly, I love it.  It actually works out perfectly when the sun heats up enough to blow open all of the blooms from forsythia to pear, dogwood and cherry trees.  Then the temps drop to a blustery 40 degrees allowing spring to be put on ice.  Quite literally.  All of those blossoms hold on just a little bit longer than they would had the temps continued to soar.  We’re still enjoying the sunshine and, of course, all of the color that spring brings with it.

spring in Cape May with Circa Dee

Living near the marsh offers calming sounds of nature…better than any sound machine money could buy.  In late winter, the peepers seem to wake up from their hibernation and croak sometimes together in unison and sometimes in a row.  They are quiet today as I write this but that may have to do with the cool temperature.  Legend has it that once the peepers return singing for a second time, the fear of frost is gone for the season.  Forget the zoning calendar, we have peepers to tell us when it’s safe to plant.

Milk Paint Hutch with signs of spring @mmsmilkpaint

Would you believe me if I told you we had a roving tom turkey visit us for Easter?  I almost can’t believe it myself and I saw it firsthand.  The Easter turkey gobbled down the path beside our house using it as a thoroughfare from the woods to the marsh I suppose.  Free to range being that it’s spring.

Apron Strings Cabinet-481

Tom the Easter turkey follows a long line of visitors in the past year including a barred owl that peered in our window at Halloween.  While his visit was a bit spooky, I occasionally find myself checking for the owl in the middle of the night.  Then there was the hawk that landed on our deck last spring and chose to stay overnight, without invitation.  The aforementioned countless peepers, bats, raccoons, turtles, snakes, rabbits and array of birds from woodpeckers to cardinals and orioles. Plus the monarchs. I can’t wait for monarch season!  There is also the brief period when the dragonflies visit at dusk in summertime.  I’d be remiss not to mention the skunks.  Phew!  Wilson had a duel with a skunk in our yard about a month ago. Needless to say, the skunk won…

Apron Strings Cabinet-482

This is the time of year when I find myself falling in love with this town again because of nature’s simplicity.  It certainly is spring with the return of all of this life and color!  Inside I appealed more to neutrals and calming whites all winter long but as of late, I am back on the color bandwagon.  Pictured here are a few of the latest projects featuring bright, spring colors!

Milk Paint Hutch- bergere over artissimmo @mmsmilkpaint

Be sure to visit Cape May in springtime and take in the sounds of the season.  The West End Garage is open Friday through Monday now and will return to a daily schedule in mid-May.  That means summer is right around the corner!  In case you missed an earlier announcement, Circa Dee is now only at The West End Garage.  More frequent posts and updates are on our facebook and instagram.  Happy Spring!Milk Paint Hutch - vintage OPEN sign

makeover: sunny days

It’s been awhile.  But for good reason.  Just last weekend I wrapped up a makeover project with a great friend.  I am excited to share the results today.  I can pretty much guarantee fewer posts in 2016 but when I do post, I hope to knock your socks off with reveals like this one.

Organic Modern Living Room - yellow, navy, gray chesterfield

Let’s start from the beginning.  The beige, boring before. This room wasn’t given much attention nor was it used frequently.  It was where all of the random pieces of furniture ended up.  Some with great bones, others not so great and a few left behind by previous owners.  The one thing all of these pieces seemed to have in common was that they were a shade of brown.  The walls too!  Beige and brown are almost always the default “safety” color when arranging a room.  Am I right?  We needed to inject color and personality into this space immediately!

Living Room before

When consulting with the couple, we discussed how they wanted to use the room and the feeling they wanted it to evoke.  This space is going to be used, as intended, as a living room for hosting friends and family.  No television, just conversation.  We also determined that the adjacent space beyond the pocket doors needed to be defined.  This would become the library anchored by wall-to-wall built in bookcases.

Library Built In Bookcase

In our initial consultation the couple described their style as “minimalist modern” although I might argue that it’s “contemporary traditional” but who’s keeping track.  In fact, let’s go with “organic modern”.  I think that sums up the outcome.  The project was a healthy dose of DIY, vintage, home store finds and shopping the house, my favorite.  A full source list can be found at the end.

Organic Modern Living Room

One specific influence kept surfacing when flushing out their style and it was Kimpton Hotels which is known for bold interiors.  Specifically their use of contemporary patterns, intense color and often natural elements juxtaposed with metallic & reflective finishes.  The most important element being “pops of color” as described by my friend.

Organic Modern Living Room - yellow, navy, gray chesterfield, vintage botanicals


We started with a relatively neutral color scheme by painting the walls a soft gray and then worked in the “pops of color” and texture.  The sofa is gorgeous and so comfortable.  It is a classic gray velvet Chesterfield accessorized with bold throw pillows that can always be changed out down the road or seasonally for a new look.  Crown molding and windows were updated before we got to the fun stuff.

Organic Modern Living Room - yellow, navy, gray chesterfield

Nature is an important element to the couple since they are avid gardeners and Renee is a floral designer.  The vintage botanical print above the sofa was a find that I’d been hoarding for just the right project.  The set of wing chairs initially started out as a bird motif but after that pattern was discontinued we came across these butterflies which were a great consolation. The birds landed on the twiggy side table.

Organic Modern Living Room - butterfly chairs

It was a no-brainer that the rug needed to be yellow, Renee’s favorite color.  We cycled through a few choices, even sending one back, until we found this one with a simple over-sized pattern.  I stumbled upon the perfect mirrored, coffee table with geometric cut outs mimicking the pattern on the area rug.  We debated over pattern vs. solid panels for the windows but ultimately settled on navy and pulled that deep color onto the walls in the library.

Organic Modern Living Room - yellow, navy, gray chesterfield

Can we talk about the lamps and end tables?  Two of my favorite elements in this room perhaps because each set is totally unique – a vintage treasure and a DIY.  Would you believe those end tables were sourced on Craigslist in mint condition?  When first reviewing the listing, we anticipated painting them white but lucked out.  The natural wood is very pretty and didn’t need any updating.  Check out the lattice-work on the bottom.

Organic Modern Living Room - yellow ginger jar lamp

The lamps were hideously dated but the perfect shape, scale and a matching pair.  At 5 bucks they were a steal.  They even came complete with pleated shades which we ditched for ruched drum shades.  A simple DIY with high gloss spray paint gave us the ginger jar shape lamps we were looking for and a fun pop of color.

DIY ginger jar lamp before & after


Turn your attention to the newly minted library.  The couple took the momentum from the living room and ran with it in a series of DIY projects in the library.  We flipped the color scheme just a bit with navy taking center stage on the walls and gray taking a backseat.

DIY Ikea hack - Billy Built In Bookcases

Bye bye beige!  The bookcase is an Ikea hack.  A set of five Billy bookcases were framed and painted to create a wall-to-wall bookcase.  Signature pops of color, of course, are found stenciled across the back.  The displaced books and mementos from the living room all found a new home organized on the shelves.

DIY Built In Bookcase Library - Ikea Hack

Vintage and contemporary pieces are right at home in this new space.  The fantastic natural light doesn’t hurt to showcase all of their finds. Navy & Yellow Home Library

Dining Room

It wouldn’t be a home project without a little project creep, naturally.  In this case the dining room is adjacent to the living room which means the crown molding needed continuity as well as gray owl paint on the walls.

Updated Gray Dining Room Before & After

Changes in the dining room included updating the light fixture to reflect the organic modern direction as well as the bird art.  I convinced them to anchor the dining table and chairs with an area rug which Renee did a great job of selecting.  I enjoy the quiet simplicity of the dark stained Windsor chairs, trestle table and humble bench but I do think the room feels a bit warmer with the bold rug.  Do I dare say that it adds a “pop of color”?

Simple Organic Gray Dining Room

Well that sums up the entire makeover which is Olive approved…

Butterfly Wing Chair

Source List

Living Room

  • Sofa – Macy’s Saybridge
  • Paint – Behr Dolphin Fin
  • End Tables – Vintage Craigslist
  • Lamps – DIY via Craigslist
  • Lamp Shades – Target
  • Throw Pillows – Homegoods (patterned) & Vintage (solid)
  • Area Rug – Wayfair
  • Coffee Table – Homegoods
  • Wing Chairs – Macy’s
  • Pouf – Wayfair
  • Twig Side Table – Pier 1
  • Mirror – Vintage
  • Botanical Print – Vintage
  • Curtains – Boscov’s
  • Top Down Cellular Window Shades – JCPenney
  • Magazine Rack – Vintage


  • Bookcase – Ikea Billy Hack
  • Paint – Behr Very Navy
  • Chair – Ikea Poang
  • Throw Pillows – Ikea (patterned) & Vintage (solid)
  • Rocking Chair – Vintage
  • Curtains – Wayfair

Dining Room

  • Furniture – Vintage
  • Rug – Ikea Vidstrup
  • Bird Print – Ikea
  • Light Fixture – Overstock

Organic Modern Living Room no wm


Christmas at home

It has been quite some time since I’ve shared projects from my own home.  And for good reason.  We’ve been shuffling furniture around still trying to find the “perfect” layout and pieces.  We’ve settled on this cozy arrangement in our family room for the holidays.  It feels good to “nest” again, one of my favorite winter past times!

Christmas living room

I finally got a bee in my bonnet about the sofa situation that I had been less than thrilled with.  I had enough of trying to camouflage the overstuffed brown sectional.  After a ton of research, I finally went ahead and ordered the creamy tufted Chesterfield of my dreams.  It arrived last weekend, ten days early!  Just in time for holiday decorating.  Come get acquainted with this beauty.

white velvet Chesterfield sofa

Don’t be shy.  Reach out and touch that velvety tufting.

tufted white Chesterfield sofa

The sofa coordinates nicely with the vintage club chair we already had which was reupholstered in hemp fabric a few years back.  Suddenly this space feels bright, airy and inviting!

corner club chair buffalo check reindeer Christmas

I plucked a fading bench out of the garden to try as a coffee table for the season.  The measurements are just right.  The newness of the sofa almost felt too regal for my rustic-loving self.  The chipping, vintage bench seems to juxtapose the sofa just right.

chipping white garden bench coffee table baluster lamp white sofa

I scored the old bench for 5 bucks at a yard sale about 5 years ago.  Five dollars well spent I’d say.

chipping white garden bench coffee table recycled fabric hooked rug

I like how the chipping finish coordinates with the chipping window frame that we just moved into this space.  We used the window as our seating chart at our wedding in 2013.  We never removed the names of our guests and instead used this as a frame by outfitting each pane with a 5×7 photo from our special day.  This is as far as we’ve gotten in making any sort of wedding album.  That baluster lamp is one of Ryan’s creations.  Pink is rapidly and unintentionally becoming accent color in here.

vintage window picture collage

Before we move onto Christmas decor, let me point out one more change.  We boosted this vintage card catalog up to proper end table height with the addition of tapered legs.  I also painted the frame of the piece however did not want to mess with the drawers, specifically the old pulls.  I am still deciding on whether to stain or paint the legs but for now we’re enjoying the table in its unfinished state.
vintage card catalog end table

The mantel always gets pride of season.  This year I was compelled to follow a traditional red & green palette for the most part. I only slightly switched things up from the autumn mantel by adding the lemon cypress trees, red pomegranates, last year’s felt wreath plus a little bling of course.  The botanical prints, another newer addition, have been up since late summer.vintage red and green botanical Christmas mantel

I also switched out the blanket on our battered, splattered ladder.  Say that 3 times fast!  We made the flannel bunting a couple of years ago.

vintage red and green botanical Christmas mantel

The tree decor is pretty laid back this year.  We always choose a fresh Fraser fir.  Growing up, we had full Douglas fir trees but I’ve become accustomed to the irregular shape of a Fraser.  The gaps are perfect for filling with twigs of cotton and the like.


Presents are starting to pile up under the tree.  I’m ahead of the game this year with gifts already wrapped and tagged.  Would you believe I found all of these pretty papers at the dollar store?  I was impressed with their selection.  For a touch of rustic, I corralled the small gifts in this vintage wire basket.


I like to put my favorite vintage Christmas balls on display in bowl.  I am always worried they’ll break if I hang them on the tree plus this gives the ornaments the opportunity to really shine on their own.  The un-silvered, glass balls date back to World War II.  They’ve always been my absolute favorite.  Of course, the vintage mercury glass ones are pretty too.      Christmas-337

The natural centerpiece was a breeze to put together.  It’s all about the layering.   Starting with the wood charger and fresh greens from the woods.  It’s best to do this just before company comes so it looks fresh.  The paperwhites are growing rapidly right before our eyes!  It’s the little things that make me happy this time of year…and the new sofa too.


**Many of the pieces used to decorate my home are for sale through Circa Dee at The West End Garage and Serendipity.  Pictured are the wood charger, tree bark wreaths, lemon cypress tree, cotton, paperwhites, flannel bunting, grainsack stockings and we have similar vintage and baluster lamps too!**

Happy Holidays!