Spring Fever

It has been a cooler Spring than normal here on Chincoteague Island and we’ve had several weeks of daffodils and tulips wafting in the wind (blowing sideways sometimes) while hellebores, forsythia and red buds bloom in tandem. It’s been quite the color show… and now peonies are beginning their star turn right in time for Mothers Day weekend.

The Hollyhocks inspiration board for Spring 2018 features vivid colors in the form of painted furniture, art work, fabrics and lots and lots of flowers. I love the color combination of hot pink, coral and yellow juxtaposed with chartreuse green. And, as you can see, adding in pops of turquoise really makes a statement. The overall message is that if you fill your home with enough flowers (whether real or in the form of images) you will be transported to a magic garden.

This is also the time for a good Spring cleaning and cleansing of your home after being cooped up all winter long (see Feng Shui Journey) and if it’s still too chilly to garden, bring a few pots of geraniums or begonias home from the nursery and set them around until it’s warm enough to plant outside.

Spring has sprung and I am ready!


Go Bold in 2018!

Pantone’s 2018 color of the year is Ultra Violet, a deep, dark purple. Think Beaujolais, velvet drapes and ripe figs. Coincidentally, I’ve been trying to introduce a little purple into my life. I got lavender eye glasses to spark up my minimalist wardrobe of white, black and gray. I even bought purple and gray tennis shoes to tie it altogether. It’s funny, I want to spend all my time obsessing about home decor, not clothes. If they made adult giranimals or PJ’s in durable, outdoor fabrics, I’d be all in… but I digress.

So how do we incorporate this rich, vibrant color into our lives? I mean, we don’t have to, I just thought it would be fun to try.

The obvious way is through flowers. Orchids, cyclamen and African Violets come to mind. Beautiful house plants that bloom year round make winter a little better! We have 8″ of snow and temperatures are bitter cold, so a hot house atmosphere is greatly appreciated. I have them on our enclosed porch, supplemented by a space heater and an aromatherapy diffuser adding much needed humidity.

There are other subtle ways to bring ultra violet into your life from blackberries to cut flowers to crystals to pretty lanterns… think of it as a way to bring joy into your environment. Ultra violet also goes well with fuchsia, tangerine and bright green. All bold colors that will spark liveliness and creativity in your day to day life whether you incorporate them in little ways or in big splashes.

This year, find your inner bohemian and let her/him out in a million ways… from your home to your garden and yes, even your wardrobe. Happy 2018!


The Art of Nesting

Winter, just after Christmas, is the perfect time for nesting. It’s cold outside and we are chilling inside, super happy there are no outdoor chores left to do! I am particular about putting away the holiday decorations. I have an assortment of pretty boxes and carefully wrap up my precious bits and bobs and tuck them away, all ready to be opened and admired next year.

Then it’s time for some dusting and vacuuming and putting things back to normal. For me, it’s pretty easy because I don’t like to move the furniture around to accommodate trees and such. But isn’t it grand when everything is put back in its place and the house looks really big and sort of… empty? Hmmmm. Time to fix that.

Like a busy little squirrel, I start moving the small table top objects all around, adding in the ones that were given to me as gifts. Upstairs, downstairs, in the living room, on the porch… I like to have candles sprinkled around so they provide a pretty glow at night, so I place a few in every room, at different heights. Sprinkle, sprinkle I go. Now, the big picture. What do I need to add, subtract or move to give the room a fresh, new look?

Always shop your house first and try to use what you have in new, creative ways. Especially family heirlooms and mementos. It’s such a joy to be surrounded by the things you love. I like to hang a variety of items from art to photography to cigar box guitars up the stairwell, it’s your own personal gallery as you climb the stairs each day. And place something interesting at the top and bottom of the stairs. A console and a mirror or a painting that has special meaning. A bowl full of seashells or rocks you have collected on trips. Vintage postcards or black and white photos tucked into an old shutter sitting or hanging nearby. The variations are endless and exciting!

This is a also good time to arrange your plants in a bright, sunny window near a comfortable chair so you can admire them. I like to place them in a grouping so you have the effect of a mini forest. Set an inspiration stone or sharing shell among them. Now it’s time to sit and daydream about the coming year… but wait, I have another idea!

Resources: candles, console table, mirror, picture frames, vintage postcards and inspiration stones (Hollyhocks).

Hygge Your Holiday

We recently had our cottage on the Chincoteague Island Homes for the Holidays Tour and we decorated it for the season following simple Hygge principles. Here are some of the guidelines we followed to easily and inexpensively decorate our house for the holidays.

1. Place the decorations in and around your existing footprint. In other words, don’t re-arrange your whole house to accommodate Christmas trees, Santas, reindeers, etc. I have a small spot at the base of our stairs and found a super narrow pre-lit tree that fits perfectly and holds my collection of sun, moon and star ornaments. We wrapped greenery around the bannister and hung a few stockings, pine cones and wood ornaments to complete the look.

2. Sprinkle fairy lights, candles and Mercury glass all over the house. It draws your eye around the room and creates a pretty, twinkling glow at night. We hung a string of lights over our bed, put a few LED, battery operated light strings on tables and clustered Mercury glass votives on a mirrored tray. We also tied vintage ornaments to our kitchen light fixture and hung copper bells from the chandelier on the front porch.

3. Add in a few pops of color with fresh flowers. We have a vivid purple orchid on our porch and an amaryllis bulb in our kitchen window. The waxed amaryllis bulbs are fairly inexpensive, don’t need to be potted or watered and make great hostess gifts over the holidays. A table covered with plants by a sunny window with a bowl of colored glass ornaments makes a gorgeous display. And don’t forget lots of apples, oranges and lemons in the kitchen.

4. Mulled wine or cider simmering away in the crockpot or on the stove, helps create the smells of the season. For mulled wine, mix together a bottle of red wine, 2 cups of apple cider, the zest and juice of an orange, 1/4 cup of honey, some cinnamon sticks and whole cloves and 1/4 cup of brandy. Serve warm with ginger snap cookies. If you don’t have a live tree, burn a pine scented candle for an hour or two every evening.

5. Finally, get out the Christmas music or put Christmas Jazz on Pandora, light a fire and your favorite scented candle, put on your comfy cozies and snuggle in with your loved ones and furry friends. Time to relax and take a deep breath!

Resources: Christmas trees (H&H Furniture), string lights (World Market), Amaryllis bulbs (Lowe’s), LED lights, Mercury glass votives, Rainbow twist bells, Balsam Fir and Cinnamon Spice candles (Hollyhocks).

Hygge Your Home

Now that the weather has turned chilly it is the perfect time to Hygge (hoo-GAH) your home. Hygge is the Danish concept of adding warmth and coziness to your lifestyle. During the long Winter months it is important to incorporate the elements that will help you not only endure but embrace and enjoy the season.

The easiest way to add Hygge is to bring out fluffy blankets and throws and spread them around your home. Place them on couches, chairs and the foot of each bed ready for an impromptu snuggle or nap. Last year I found Sherpa pillows and throws and they are perfect Hygge elements. Pile them up in a basket in the living room or den.

Surround yourself with natural elements, such as pine cones and seed pods, branches of bittersweet and holly. Green plants and orchids bring life and nurturing to your home as you turn your perspective back inside. Turn down the lights and burn candles with earthy scents such Chestnut & Acorn or Black Ginger.

A mug of hot cocoa or tea every afternoon as the sun dips and temperatures drop creates a comforting Hygge ritual. Set out a wicker tray and pretty mugs or teacups along with a selection of your favorite teas, a jar of honey and a silver spoon. A reminder of a relaxing time now awaits you.

Simple, soothing and soulful… from warm socks to hearty soups to Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald singing Autumn in New York, let the season begin!

Resources: Sherpa pillows and throws (Pier 1), trays, silver spoons, Chestnut & Acorn and Black Ginger candles (Hollyhocks).


Seasonal Decor

As Fall approaches and the days get shorter and the nights get cooler, my attention turns back to the inside of our little cottage. The focus is on coziness and color… which means putting down more rugs, adding a few throws and changing out the table linens. Our cottage has Benjamin Moore China White walls, open white washed ceilings, pine floors and rattan blinds throughout. We have jute rugs, wicker chairs and a couch slipcovered in stone colored denim fabric.  The accent colors are brick red, turquoise, green and mustard yellow which are subtly added through pillows, painted furniture and art. It is very clean and simple, just the way I like it!

Hollyhocks has the same basic color scheme but each season I create an Inspiration Board to decide what accent colors to pull through the shop. This Fall it will be brown and green with pops of orange and red. I plan to use natural elements, such as wood bowls and moss balls to start and then weave in pumpkins, acorns and bittersweet as the season progresses. Mercury glass candle holders will add the sparkle. I avoid adding store bought, traditional decor (ghosts, goblins, turkeys and Santas) for the simple reason that we don’t have the storage space. This is true for both our home and the shop.

Plus has anyone noticed that Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas are becoming one long holiday season starting in late August? Add the proverbial pumpkin spice to the mix and you realize how commercialized they have become. I guess it’s my personal mission to make the change of seasons and holidays more about surrounding yourself with the things you love and less about hauling boxes of decorations up from the basement. Namaste!

Resources: Rattan blinds (Lowe’s), jute rugs (World Market), wicker chairs and couch (Pottery Barn), wood bowls, moss balls and Mercury glass candle holders (Hollyhocks), pumpkins, acorns and bittersweet (Mother Nature).

Inspiration Board

First, I apologize for the long delay in blogging! In April we adopted a stray cat that we have been nursing back to health. His name is Ginger Baker (aka Gee Bee) and he is an orange tabby with major cattitude! In July, we had a wonderful visit with our grandson, Zachary, and we’ve enjoyed lots of good food and some beautiful sunrises and sunsets. PLUS it’s been a crazy, busy summer at the shop so it’s been quite a whirlwind. Now it’s time to get back to business…

At Hollyhocks we have an Inspiration Board behind the counter that we change out regularly and it serves multiple purposes. Mainly it helps me organize my thoughts for the coming season so I can order and display the items we carry in a cohesive, thoughtful way.  Also it helps our customers visualize the themes and hopefully, spurs their creativity in taking the ideas home. And because we mainly use color to decorate each season, it helps me decide which colors to highlight throughout the shop. I do this in a variety of ways through candles, flowers, accessories and images that I cut out and frame.

This summer the board featured citrus colors with pops of pink and turquoise, easy outdoor living and entertaining ideas and lots of painted furniture. The texture of wicker mixed with wood and metal added a nice contrast. For example, a galvanized tray of herbs on a hyacinth runner makes a great centerpiece and a wood bowl of oranges, small vases of flowers from the garden and Mercury glass votives complete the look.

It is time to start working on the next Inspiration Board and I’m currently going through catalogs and magazines pulling the images that appeal to me. In a few days, I will lay them out on the counter and see what themes emerge and start pinning them on the board… and when I’m done, I’ll share it with you!

Resources: Carved wood frames, Ghana market baskets, Kantha totes and throws, copper bells, jute rugs, beach mats, sand sweepers, galvanized trays, herb bundles, hyacinth runners and Mercury glass votives (Hollyhocks).

Note: For great summer recipes such as: Farmers Market gazpacho, peach salsa and chilled cucumber basil soup, check out our cooking blog at Blueberries & Tootsie Rolls.