Tasteful and Chic Halloween Decor

Tasteful and Chic Halloween Decor

Call me crazy, but I’ve never been a Halloween fan. Yes, I played to role of room mom several years back and created spooky parties with food and crafts for the kiddos with my other mom friends. And yes, I do have fun dressing up with my team every year at school. But in the end, the plain pumpkin reigns over the Jack-o-lantern every time for me.

As a mom, I know that kids LOOOOVVVEEE to decorate for Halloween. Now that I think back, my daughter may have been a tad deprived from this whole spooky experience and I feel a little bad about that now. But the more I search, the more I find cute things to display for Halloween. To make sure decorations look chic and not tacky…I think simplicity is the key. Simple, understated props go a long way in keeping with a thoughtful, “pretty” home.

That said, I have been seeing some really cute, stylish Halloween decor around the web that definitely ups the haunt factor of any home. Here’s my round-up of 13 tasteful Halloween decor options that are available now:

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12 / 13

****Featured Image courtesy of Grandin Road

My Parents’ 50th Anniversary

My Parents’ 50th Anniversary

50 years!! How can it be?!? But when I think about it, I’m nearing that milestone so I guess it’s true. Anyway, last night I held a small dinner party to celebrate my parents with family and special friends. To be honest, I’m not quite sure what I would do without them. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve especially come to really rely on them. My dad is my partner in crime with my home projects and my mom is my advice giver and best friend. So with COVID as active as ever, I thought a small dinner party would be nice to celebrate their special day.

Noreen and Dwayne were married on September 19, 1970 at Sacred Heart Church in Bethlehem Township. When looking through their wedding album, I felt my mom’s forward thinking in her wedding decor choices because she chose an untraditional navy and white with pops of light pink as her colors. She had fresh flowers on her cake rather than the bride/groom topper, and she had a single white dove on the front of each car. She later used one of these doves as a holiday tree topper for years!

Given how pretty everything seemed to be, I decided to use her theme as my inspiration for the table decor and flowers. So without including a ton of verbiage, I thought I would let the pictures speak for themselves.

I posted the above photo a few days ago on social media to showcase my vision for the entire event.

My friends Mario and Dave helped me assemble the menu stands. I purchased 1/2″ copper tubing and fittings from Home Depot and used scrap wood for the base. The cool thing, I can take them apart and use them again in the future!

To mimic the white doves, I picked up these faux white birds from Hobby Lobby and stuck a skewer in each to use as the stick.

I couldn’t find the exact runner I wanted, so I bought a yard of upholstery fabric, cut it in half, ironed and glued the edges under, and it created the table backdrop I needed for just a few dollars.

For favors, I purchased these wine tumblers from Amazon. Each adult used their own and was able to take it home with them. Plus I attached a name tag on each so we could keep track of which cup belonged to whom.

My version of a charcuterie tray!

To keep the toxins from getting into the cake, I used straws to surround the stems of each bloom. You can also use plastic wrap and straws to be extra safe.

My mom and my aunt!

The HAPPY couple!!! xoxoxo

Mario’s Italian Eatery | The Entry

Mario’s Italian Eatery | The Entry

I recently posted about a super-fun project that I’m working on, which you can find right here.  But as a quick recap, I’m working with soon-to-be local business owner [Mario Famularo] to fine tune the interiors of his new restaurant…Mario’s Italian Eatery.

If someone asked me to assign a name to the future vibe of the place, I’d have to go with rustic meets eclectic/industrial with a touch of glam.  There’s plenty of “rustic” with the wooden elements he’s created.  Mario has put together shelves using reclaimed wood to house his array of Italian groceries.  He also is using old crates for storage and display of goods. In addition, the place is set down in an old, industrial factory that was once a silk mill.  With all of that working in his favor…it’s now my job to balance all of those cool details with other design elements to create an eye-pleasing space that is fun to either grab take-out or dine in with friends.

Here’s a few photos of what the place looks like currently and you may recognize a few of the photos from my post.

As someone who tends to mix and match different design styles, I’m loving the wooden aesthetic.  But also as someone who feels a space needs a mixture of metals and finishes and color, my plan is to bring in a few unexpected touches that will be featured throughout this series of blog posts as we progress.

Today I want to focus on the entry.  As you walk into the restaurant, you will be greeted with the seating along the right wall, as well as the counter with cases of meats and cheeses, etc.  With the image of the reclaimed wood in the back of my head, I wanted to balance that rustic vibe with a more modern, clean/classic look.  I gave Mario three different scenarios for the counter space as shown on the right side of the vision board below.

Screen Shot 2020-08-25 at 3.59.51 PM

First option is to stay with the wood theme below the counter top, but couple it with a sleek marble-like top with bronze graining instead of grey.  Second counter option would be to do black picture frame molding or wainscoting, but use a grey veined marble top.  A third (out of the box) option is to use a fun tile with a butcher block counter top.  You can see all three in the image above.  Right now Mario is leaning towards option 2 – the black counter faces with white marble tops.  Since the floor is a brown concrete, the black painted wood with white top will provide a neutral backdrop when displaying all of the fun goodies that he will have to offer.

In addition to the counter, there are a few other entry touches I want to talk about….

~ A wall-mounted butcher paper note roll – This would be a cool way to display daily specials, upcoming events, or anything…. maybe even a quote of the week.  It adds a personal touch to a busy restaurant.

~ Plenty of live green plants and florals – Green plants are a must in every room, and I have a cool feature idea coming in a future post that ties in with greenery!

~ A large, gold, modern chandelier hung above the door to offset the other lighting we have planned (more on that to come).

~ A colorful rug to greet customers at the door to soften the industrial vibe and make them feel welcome and at home.

~ And a large menu board placed strategically that is done in a graphically-pleasing way for all to see!

I know I’ve said it before, but I am thrilled to be a part of this project!  Seeing a space start with the bare bones and come together into something pretty spectacular is so exciting to me.  This experience has inspired me to finally get my own design business started and in case you missed that announcement, you can read all about it here!

Stay tuned for more progress of Mario’s, including the seating area plan, cool bathroom ideas, and the feature I am MOST excited about!

 

Trend: Cane Furniture, Accessories, Etc…

Trend: Cane Furniture, Accessories, Etc…

It’s been over a week since my elbow surgery and I can finally ‘semi-function’ without the drudgery of the huge brace/wrap that I endured while healing. I still have a while to go with recovery, but being able to use both hands is bliss.

And in case you missed my most recent posts, I talked about my new business here and the cool project I am working on here. My new website is currently in the works as I type this, and progress with new clients is stalled for a slight bit because of my condition. That said, I’m so excited to start taking on projects soon!

Today’s post is about a trend that I’m seeing all over the place…caned decor that includes furniture, accessories, lighting, etc. I know you’ve seen it….it’s the light and airy woven material that is often used on chair seats and backs, as well as on the faces of dresser drawers. My mom (still has) a chair that has lived in their home for years, and it’s still going strong.

The other day I was thumbing through the new Crate and Barrel catalog and a few of their items caught my eye. From chairs, to tables, to even baby cribs…so, so pretty. I really love how the caning adds such a warm texture to the pieces.

Serena and Lily also has some cool pieces, very similar to Crate and Barrel’s items. I LOVE the daybed!

This look is a rather traditional style, but I feel that it complements well with styles such as boho, mid century modern, and chinoiserie. I’ve also recently found cool club chairs and other items on Facebook Marketplace that would elevate the vibe of any space without the investment.

My take:

For me, I wanted to start small so the other day I picked up this piece at Hobby Lobby. Technically, I think it’s a candle holder, but I would definitely add fresh flowers to it using a smaller mason jar inside to hold the water. The beauty of smaller accessories is that you can latch on to any trend and engage in the fresh styles without the expense of big ticket items. And as I said before, don’t forget to check sources such as Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace too!

Thoughts? Love it or hate it? Or, meh? xo

Commercial Project | Mario’s Italian Eatery: The Bare Bones

Commercial Project | Mario’s Italian Eatery: The Bare Bones

Sometimes really cool things happen. And when they do, that’s code to go full swing ahead!

A few weeks ago a friend called to say that she knows a guy who is opening a new restaurant and he needs a fresh eye with the interior design. So based on her recommendation, he wanted to meet with ME. At first, I was shocked, but once the whole idea sunk in, I was stoked!

Mario Famularo will be opening Mario’s Italian Eatery, which is located in the Silk Mill on 13th Street in Easton, PA. If you’re not familiar, this is a cool area of town that has been converted from an old factory to shops, restaurants, businesses, restaurants, and condos. The vibe is super hip and it’s usually bustling each time I visit.

Fun fact: My grandmother worked at a slip factory in this mill during the 1930’s. She walked to and from work from Phillipsburg, NJ, just to save the nickel bus toll.

Upon meeting Mario, I realized that he had a solid vision. With an art background himself, he already had a few items in place to serve as a springboard for the rest of the design to follow. Rustic wooden shelves, vintage crates, industrial exposed ceiling, all begging to be dressed up a bit with color, pattern, art, greenery, and texture.

Let’s take a little tour of the space as it is now. As you can see, there’s so much potential.

Looking at the front entrance
The large back wall will be the future kitchen.
Vintage crates to be used for storage.
View of the back corner and future site of one of the counters.
This old scale belonged to his parents.
This corner will be where the Coffee and Espresso bar will go. The bathroom is to the right of the brick wall.
From the inside looking out – the sign you see from the street.
Another view of the space and how the kitchen will be incorporated into the restaurant.

So now the fun part begins. I submitted a few vision boards to Mario the other day, and we are currently analyzing what is needed and choosing what will work in the space. My plan is to show you all of this….the design whole process, from beginning to end. It is my hope that you will follow along.

In case you’re wondering, Mario plans to offer the community his homemade pasta, cured meats and artisan cheeses, pizza, sandwiches/paninis, Italian imported products, and a coffee/espresso bar. His website can be found here.

Restaurant address: Mario’s Italian Eatery, 669 N 13th Street, Unit A-102, Easton, PA 18042

Finally….

Before I end this post, I want to thank all of you who reached out with notes of congratulations and best wishes. Yesterday I officially announced my new venture…the interior design business that I wanted to start for a while. TRACY WARTMAN DESIGN will soon be official, complete with a new website, blog, and room reveals that have been waiting to be shared!

New Venture….Coming Soon!

New Venture….Coming Soon!

I know I’ve hinted about this a few times (here) and (here), but I’m so excited to announce that my new design business in is the works…for real! Without giving too much away about a very exciting project that I am working on right now, this endeavor has made me take a hard look at my future goals. The business was always in the back of my mind as something that I wanted to do, but I needed that push forward to take the plunge. Ultimately, I realized that there is no time like the present to begin.

TRACY WARTMAN DESIGN

By trade, I am a teacher with a marketing and event planning background. However, over the years, design has increasingly become an extreme hobby of sorts, a passion that I constantly research, study, and execute in my own home. I’ve learned to love and appreciate all spaces that are put together with purpose, love, and function. Clean lines, textures, color or no color, modern vs traditional (or a combination of both). It’s so addicting to scroll through Instagram and look at the beautiful spaces pulled together by talented men and women all over the world. Over time, I too was sucked in and started dabbling here and there.

I started this blog as an outlet to display my projects. I craved one spot where I was able to unleash my creative juices and share what I was working on with others. And over time, I have been humbled by the amazing feedback to my interior posts and the many of you that have reached out to me for design advice. So, here I am….ready to take the plunge.

WHAT’S THE BUSINESS ALL ABOUT?

First off, the name of this blog will be replaced and rebranded to become my new business name…TRACY WARTMAN DESIGN. I will be sure to promote all of this when the changes happen.

A sampling of services offered:

  • Paint Color Selection
  • Selection of Materials & Finishes – always tons of choices!
  • Accessorizing a space to “cozy” it up a bit
  • Gallery Wall Planning and Installation
  • Bookshelf Styling
  • Room in a Day – I would “shop your house” and rearrange your space to create a whole new vibe using items you already own
  • Vision Board Planning – sending you off in the right direction to create a space you will love
  • Plus more!

Once the new site is established, I plan to reveal our home office, the renovated foyer, our living room, and the downstairs powder room, complete with professional photos to really showcase the aesthetics. These spaces haven’t been properly displayed with all of you, and I’m excited to share. I also can’t wait to talk about a new project I am working on (as noted above)…more on that Friday.

So here we are…my passion is becoming a reality. I’ve always believed that if you want something, go for it. Playing it safe leaves you wondering what if? And I really don’t want to get any older and regret not taking a chance. So, if you or someone you know may be interested in speaking with me about my services, I’d love to chat! I can be reached at tracywartmandesign@gmail.com.

One last thing…a HUGE thank you to all of you who believed in me along the way. Your love and support means the world. xo

Photo credit: Elizabeth Henson Photography

A casual dinner party and my tip to take a store-bought dessert up a notch

A casual dinner party and my tip to take a store-bought dessert up a notch

This past weekend we hosted a small dinner party among friends and the goal of the night was to keep it simple and easy. Usually when I am entertaining, I tend to stress myself out with making everything from scratch…the appetizers, the desserts, all of it. But this time, I wanted to eliminate those steps and enjoy myself among good company without feeling frazzled or tired from all of the prep work.

We decided to throw steaks on the grill, so that in itself was a headache taken off of my plate. Anything grill related is passed over to J since he is the grillmaster of the house. My friends were bringing a pasta salad, so I didn’t need to fuss too much over sides, but wanted to add a fresh green salad to the mix. What was left? Apps and dessert. Here was the menu:

To start, I made an easy Whipped Ricotta dip and served it with a fresh baguette and I sliced some imported meats and chesses and piled them on a board with crackers. Then I pulled together a green salad with toasted almonds, green onions and a delicious, herb-packed Green Goddess Dressing to serve with the main course.

Finally, the dessert. I bought (yes, bought) a chocolate cake, propped it on a pretty pedestal, and surrounded it with greens cut from my yard. So easy! The cake then served as a pretty centerpiece on the island with the appetizers.

Note: Place the plastic cake top over the cake on the pedestal to keep it fresh and cut the greens ahead of time and place them aside in water until ready to assemble.

The table was super simple, as well. Brown jute placemats, black and white striped napkins, white dinner plates, fresh flowers from the grocery store, and my grandmother’s water glasses. That’s it!

With a few simple tasks to prep beforehand, my dinner turned out just as planned. Good food, yummy wine, and fun company!

Making the pantry a little more user friendly

Making the pantry a little more user friendly

I’m not sure about you, but one of the busiest spots in the house is the kitchen pantry. Whether it’s me who needs to access items while cooking dinner, or the kids wanting their snacks eight times a day, this spot is a high traffic area. After coming home from the beach with leftover snacks and condiments that needed to be incorporated into the madness of an already full cabinet, I felt the need to completely purge and reestablish a new place for everything.

I started by pulling everything out and looking at dates. All expired items went into the trash. Food that was soon-to-be expired went on the dining room table because my plan is to get creative and use all of them in upcoming dinners. Finally, the items that were going back into the cabinet were left on the island to sort and organize.

As I was looking at all of the food, jars and boxes that needed a spot in the drawers, I made notes on how to best organize them to be most efficient for every day use. I wanted to place things in bins to separate food staples and in containers to maximize freshness. To do this, I made a list of what I thought I needed in terms of plastic storage vessels, measured my shelves vertically for maximum height, and headed off to Home Goods to see what I could find.

My trip was definitley succesful. Not only did I run into a friend and help her choose new pillows and a lamp for her updated living room (BONUS!), I came home with a plethora of items to use for my little project. My thought is that I could always take back what I didn’t use.

After some time and thoughtfulness, the end game came together. Can goods and nut butters on the low top shelf, Whole30 staples and other necessity items in the middle, and kid snacks on the bottom tier. Now the kiddos have a specific spot to grab their snacks without the need to stand in front of an open cabinet for several minutes at a clip.

In addition, I placed our cashews, pecans and chocolate chips in handy, stay-fresh containers for easy access. J and I are constantly reaching for handfuls of raw cashews and now they are readily available.

Now that the pantry is picture perfect, the real challenge is going to be keeping it that way! 😉

A few images to capture our beach trip…

A few images to capture our beach trip…

Last week my family rented a home in Sandbridge, which is technically a part of Virginia Beach. Sandbridge is a sandy peninsula that juts southward, just below the hustle and bustle of Virginia Beach itself. It’s quiet, and you can choose to have minimal, to no contact with anyone else, which was perfect for us during COVID. Essentially, Sandbridge is the Outer Banks without the extra-long drive.

Our days were filled with divided time between the pool at the house and the ocean. And our nights were filled with happy hours, word games on the iPads, family bingo, word search contests, ice cream sundae making, and basketball. Here’s a few random images in black & white that I captured during the trip…

Word search contest courtesy of my parents. My mom saved the puzzles and mounted them on to cut-down presentation boards. My dad cut down pencils so everyone would have something to write with. The first one done got a prize!
Laser focus.
Our make shift bar was fully stocked.
Just another day on the beach!
The owner of the home did a nice job with decor and they even had a copy of Gray Malin’s book.
Another decor shot….
The picture doesn’t do this lotus garden justice. It can be seen on the way into Sandbridge. It’s called the Crezia Covington Reed Lotus Garden and it was dedicated in 1975 to her for her work in preserving the Native American Lotus.
Family bingo…always a hit with the kids!
Prizes leftover from the game we never got to play over the holidays. The unwrapping made it even funnier!
This beauty always catches my eye every year when I’m running. The black and white exterior is unique compared to the plethora of beachy colored homes.
A Manischewitz Elderberry (for the adults) and grape juice (for the kids) toast in honor of my grandfather’s 102nd birthday. We all miss him every day.
Basketball in the backyard for days….
Finally, we did another photo shoot with the talented Elizabeth Henson. More on this later…..
The best part was picking up a very excited Samson after a week of missing him to pieces.

How I elevated the look of our college diplomas

How I elevated the look of our college diplomas

We all know how much work it takes to earn that piece of paper that either hides away in a drawer somewhere or hangs in a tired frame that doesn’t do it justice. Four years of blood, sweat, and tears usually go into earning a degree, so why not show the world your accomplishment? I surprised J a few weeks ago and had both of our college diplomas framed in a more up-to-date, modern style that fits better with our new office decor.

In the past, I’ve seen MANY bloggers post about their experiences with Framebridge and I never took the plunge and ordered from them. For this project, I knew I wanted somewhat of a unique frame and I loved the look of the Williams Sonoma burl wood version. With that in mind, I did a little research and found Framebridge to be my best option.

Although framing these was not a low budget item, I felt the whole process was seamless from start to finish. I have to admit that I was a little nervous to send them BOTH of our diplomas, but based on my experience, I would do it again in a heartbeat. It was fast, and they alerted me every step of the way. The day they arrived in the mail, both frames were well-packaged and wrapped so nothing got damaged. Plus, they were so pretty!

Once I had my mind set on the frame, picking the matting was easy. His diploma is a creamy color, where mine is more white. Because of the difference, I thought black was my best bet. Plus, black just popped with the frames.

I am also loving how the frames were specifically made to the sizes of the diplomas. Mine is vertical and a little larger in scale compared to his smaller, horizontal version. The way that the varying sizes complement each other while hanging on the wall really makes that space extra special and interesting.

It was a win-win for us! I loved them and J was totally surpised to see his diploma in a new, stylish frame. Best part, they look great against the blue walls in our space.

Note: This post was not sponsored by any means. I’m just a girl passing along a positive experience to you.