Christmas with Home Depot ….

I am positive I was a magpie in my past life.  How else can I explain my unabashed love of all things that shimmer, glimmer and shine.  I typically keep it under control but come the holiday season, it gets bad……like a sugar addict trying to control their urges during a cake testing.  With so many visually tempting and delicious options, how can you not try just a little?  So imagine my delight (and The Partner’s chagrin) when the folks at Home Depot asked me to participate in their Holiday Style Challenge?

Courtney Lake for Home Depot

And for me, I love hues of bronze, silver and brass with equal abandon, so why stop at one?  So I didn’t!  I mixed metals with abandon and glee, creating a layered approach to decorating the first floor of my cozy condo.  Deep bronzes, shiny silvers and patines brass played nicely with each other in my tablescape and overall design……

Check out Home Depot’s blog, The Apron to see the full story.  But if you are itching to try to recreate the look, check out my recommendations below…..

HD Get The Look

Clockwise: Tree Skirt//Crown Bowls//Druzy Placecard Holder//Wine Glasses//Dessert Plates//Gold Flatware

HD Holiday Tree

Clockwise: Ornament & Tinsel Wreath//Tree Figurine//Beaded Crown//Metallic Ornaments//Tinsel Floral Picks

[photo credit: photo by adza// styling credit: courtney lake]

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[disclaimer:  home depot provided product for the photo shoot but all thoughts are mine]

Play Date: Home Depot Patio Style Challenge….

A few weeks ago, The Home Depot approached me as well as several other bloggers to see if we would be willing to work with them to rethink the outdoor spaces of our respective homes. Y’all know I love me some HD, so it was a pretty easy decision to say yes and be on my merry way to refreshing our patio……

HomeDepotChallenge-38Check out the post on The Home Depot blog, The Apron to see the patio refresh as well as the quick and easy DIY projects I incorporated into the design. Thank you again to Home Depot for including me in this awesome bunch of bloggers and DIY forward-thinkers!

On a side note, High Point is going really well and I am tired to the bone. Looking forward to a quiet weekend filled with sleep and no fried foods…..I would be willing to give up sleep for a week to avoid fried pickles again (look at Instagram and you will understand)….

Talk soon love bugs!

[photography: photo by adza]

Loving Out Loud: Windswept Tile by Jeffrey Court….

Sometimes you run across something so wonderful….so great….so magical that you want to hoard it for yourself.  It’s like that one time I found a unicorn that pooped Snickers and could do taxes.  Yes, it’s THAT special.  But then you realize that sharing is caring and you have to let the world know about your secret, so I am letting the cat out of the bag…..well the tile that is…..

Tile Love 2

“Windswept” by Jeffrey Court is a beautiful tile.  A 13″ x 13″ marble mosaic tile, it  reminds me of a higher end tile made of onyx and quartz from another manufacturer.  If you read that last sentence correctly you saw I inferred it wasn’t expensive and you would be right; at $17 a sheet from Home Depot it is practically a steal.

I presented the tile as an option to a budget-minded client for their kitchen remodel.  They wanted a classic look with a nod to modern…….

Tile Love

I suggested that they go with a large format 8″x12″ Cerma Marfil Gold marble tile as their backsplash, a beautiful honey quartz for their countertops and use the Windswept as an accent border.  The mosaic tile is the perfect tie-in between the two other stone surfaces and provides a beautiful palette of grey, honey and creamy white to decorate the rest of the kitchen with.

While we all loved the idea, we didn’t end up going with concept.  In a twist, actually they went with an even better one I think – a tad more daring but still appropriate for their home. Excited to share the concept sketch with you next week!

Until then I will be hanging with my unicorn friend enjoying a delicious Snickers as he explains tax shelters to me.  Have an awesome weekend!

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Play Date: Home Depot Patio Challenge….

“There comes a time when you hear a certain call and the world must come together as one….”

(yes, I am not above quoting 80s music to get my point across…)

I heard that call and it was from my patio saying, “Time for an update!”.  Don’t get me wrong, the bones of our patio are great.  We invested a chunk about two years ago, adding in drip irrigation, mature trees, pavers and leveling out a section of it for extra room.  We ended up with a compact space that can serve for entertaining and lounging….

Patio - Overview Shot

Patio Firepit Seating

However, after spending two years with the initial design, we have found that our needs have shifted for our outdoor space. I wanted desperately to tweak the space to fit our lifestyle and fortunately for me, my call was answered by the fine folks at Home Depot who asked me to participate in their Patio Challenge with several other noteworthy bloggers and designers.  It is a design and DIY lovefest up in here!  I am stoked to be part of this fantastic group of creative folks.

It also means I need to bring my A-game to the table because these peeps don’t half-step when it comes to their projects.  As for myself, my punch list includes:

– Create a dining area where the existing sitting area resides:  We are eating more and more outdoors and it would be great to have a dedicated spot for al fresco dining…..

– Create dedicate fire pit lounge:  I love our fire pit and use it often.  We have some great butterfly chairs that I have been using but I think swapping out the seating for a more permanent option makes the most sense….

– Add greenery:  Plants, plants & plants!  I envision some great topiaries or fruit trees in large pots, more cacti and a few pots of flowering beauties.  You can NEVER go wrong with plants….it is the outdoors!

– Finishing details:  I have a few easy, practical and fun projects slanted to a more modern angle to finish off the space.  Simple projects that will solve some issues I think we all experience with our patio but have big impact!

Can’t wait to start and thankful to Home Depot for giving me the opportunity to play in my backyard!

[disclaimer: I was provided with free merchandise by Home Depot as part of their Patio Challenge.  All thoughts and statements are my own.]

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Planter Box…What To Fill It With?

As part of the patio “make over” we had a planter box built on top of a cement retaining wall.  The goal is to grow some type of hanging, trailing, meandering vine that will hide the wall over time.

We initially tried sweet potato vines at the base of the wall, but due to the wall’s orientation we could not make those darn things grow.  The soil in front of the wall is fairly shallow combined with limited natural light, the sweet potato vines were sorta doomed from the start  I think.

So now we have ripped them out and are back at square one.  After doing some research, I think we have settled on a few different options:

Parrot's Beak//Lotus berthelotii

Spanish Shawl//Heterocentronelegans

Silver Falls//Dichondra

Photo Credit: Davesgarden.com

Aptenia Cordifolia

Each of the plants according to the nursery as well as the online gardening blogs do well in part sun/part shade, need only about 8-12 inches of soil to fully blossom and are drought tolerant once established.

While I love the orange flowers and unique leaves of the Parrot’s Beak, I am concerned that it may not be as hardy as they nursery makes it out to be.  In addition, the Spanish Shawl has a drop of about 2-3 feet which would leave about 3 feet of exposed wall and covering the concrete is a major reason we installed the planter box.

So that brings me to the Aptenia Cordifolia and the Silver Falls.  To be upfront, I already own both of these plants and love each for different reasons.  The Silver Falls is currently in the pots at the front of the house and provides a beautiful silvery green cascade of foliage down one of the pots.  However, the vines are a tad too delicate for my liking.  On several occasions I have snagged my bag on them and broken off segments.  Considering that the planter box is next to a high traffic area, I am concerned that the vines won’t stand up to be being constantly brushed against.

That leaves us with the Aptenia Cordifolia which is actually a ground cover but can be used in hanging pots and planters.  In the same family as succulents, the vines are a bright green with pink flowers during the summer months.  It trails up to 4 feet and the vines are thick and sturdy.  An added bonus is that it propagates through cuttings.  Therefore, if a section dies, I can simply cut a piece off and replant it…. so it’s the plant that keeps giving!

And oh being the cheap wad I can be at times, Home Depot sells flats of the Aptenia for $13 while all the other plants are sold for about $4-$5 a pot.  If my calculations are correct, I would only need 2 flats to fill the planter while I would need about 8-12 pots for the others.

With all this being said, it seems like I have a front-runner with the Aptenia Cordifolia.  What do you all think?  Any suggestions for trailing vines? Any of you have these plants in your own yard?  Leave a comment and tell me your experiences or thoughts!

Succulent Planters…..

It’s no secret that I regularly kill plants of all shapes, sizes and varieties.  The only success I have had to date has been with succulents and even then I have come close to killing a few.  Thankfully, the succulent container garden I planted earlier this year is growing beautifully and with warmer weather approaching should explode with color as its flowers bloom.  However, the same can’t be said for my orchids who all bit the dust about the same time.  It was like  mass suicide….they all bit it within a span of 24 hours!

So for the moment, I am done with orchids but I still like having greenery in the house.  I knew I didn’t want ferns and replacing cut flowers on a weekly basis is a tad expensive, so I was at a loss as what to do.  Pondering my plight, my eyes fell upon this marble urn that sits on my bedside table….

Originally designed to hold bathroom sundries, I bought it at Home Goods for around $5 as a bit of “bling”.  Seeing the urn made me realize that it would make the perfect planter for a miniature succulent.  Carrying with the theme, I made a quick run to Home Goods and luckily for me, they had three different sized marble containers for which I paid a total of $20, about the price I would pay for a nice pot, or so how I justified this random shopping urge.

Fortunately, I had a credit at Home Depot and was able to purchase three very adorable mini succulents for $1.98 each.  Once home, the project took about 30 minutes to complete thanks to the addition of some extra potting soil.  I think they turned out really well…..

After filling in the sides of the containers with extra potting soil, I was left with the issue of having soil in all the nooks of the succulents which was not exactly the look I was going for.   Remembering a trick from my event planning days, I pulled out a small artist brush and gently brushed the dirt off the leaves — worked like a charm!

Right now, they will reside on my coffee table until I find a more suitable spot, but then, I just may leave them there.  They can’t fare any worse than their orchid brethren……

Now I just have to figure out what to do with the tops that came with the containers.  Suggestions for a nifty DIY project for the tops would be appreciated!  Leave your ideas in the comments section or shoot me an email.

I am off to attach trim to the curtains — it will either look awesome or like crap.  Isn’t it funny that the divide between these two extremes can be so small at times?

Easter Table Breakdown & April Give Away Reminder….

A friendly reminder that I have launched my first give away with the blog where I will be giving away this tablescape…..you get everything pictured below…..

No really – I wasn’t kidding when I said I was giving away almost everything you saw on the table…..the winner will get:

Six Vintage Milk Glass Goblets

Six New Powder Blue Ceramic Plates from Mesa Home

Six 100% Cotton Napkins from Cynthia Rowley’s Home Collection

One 70-inch Round 100% Cotton from Ridgefield Collection

I am pretty much giving you all the essentials for you to recreate the tablescape!  So how do you win all this free stuff?  Easy, do ANY of the following things:

1) Subscribe to the blog

2) Fan me on Facebook and leave a comment on the wall

3) Subscribe to my Twitter feed and tweet about the contest using hashtag #CourtneyOutLoud

Each time you do one of the above items, come back and leave a comment here.  You can do all three and triple your chances of winning!  The contest closes April 18th midnight PST with the winner being randomly chosen.  Please remember to include an email address in your comment to I can contact the winner.  Unfortunately, this contest is only open to US residents (those dishes are HEAVY!) – sorry.

So don’t leave me hanging — nothing worse than throwing your arms open expecting some blog luvin’ and be left in the cold.

Okay, now that I have sufficiently pimped myself and the give away, on to breaking down the Easter tablescape…….

As usual, I sought inspiration in my favorite locations; The Dollar Store, Home Goods and my “prop closet”  aka my garage!  After creating my fictional client and the event I would be decorating for, I went about sourcing materials to make my dream a reality.  First stop was Home Goods where I picked up the table-cloth, napkins and plates.  Then I was off to The Dollar Store where I scored the materials for the center piece and table favors.  I completed my sourcing with stops at Home Depot for the sod and my local grocer for the fresh flowers.

Here is the complete breakdown:

Dinner Plates: Home Goods

Charger Plates: Z Gallerie

Napkins: Home Goods

Tablecloth: Home Goods

Milk Glass Goblets: Ebay.com

Milk Glass Compote Glasses: Garage Sale

Jelly Beans & Flower Lollipops: Dollar Store

Sod: Home Depot

Flowers: Berkeley Bowl (discount flower bin)

Flatware: Gift/Resale Shops/Ebay

Table Favor Vases: Dollar Store

Centerpiece: Cake Stands (Marshalls)/Coffee Filter Wreath (recycled)/Ribbon (Joann Fabrics)

Grand Total: I am SO not telling you this time around!  Why?  Because I am giving half the stuff away and it’s rude to tell someone how much their gift cost!  However, if you must know….. the grand total was actually below my usual tally of $75-100 thanks to some sweet finds including:

1) Flowers:  I was able to get all the live flowers and the sod for $11!  The flowers were found in the $1 bin at the grocery store – I simply plucked out the dying flowers and used the rest of the decorate the centerpiece.  The sod was turning brown on one end, so it was discounted.  Fortunately, I only need a small amount and was able to use the opposite side.

2) Centerpiece: I was able to recycle the coffee filter wreath I made this Christmas.  I made one smaller wreath using a $1 floral wreath form and the left over filters from the original project.  Total cost was $1!

3) Table Favor Containers:  They are $1 glass vases from The Dollar Store that I use when holding dinner parties.  They serve double duty as containers on my crudite platters!  Total cost for them — $0!

It pays to shop your own home first!  Look at everything from old milk bottles to  house plants as potential props when decorating your tables.  You would be amazed at all the awesome things you already own that you can use to create beautiful tablescapes.  As I always say, creating a table that looks like a million bucks doesn’t have to cost you a fortune!