Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Home and Hospitality

My first childhood friend was imaginary. Her name was Tracy and she was invisible. Tracy and I played together for years. She made me brave when I felt afraid, was my playmate when I needed a friend and always let me be first.

When my family and I moved to Collierville about 15 years ago, I started my search for a new friend. I was invited to a neighborhood Bunko group, and I thought this would be the perfect time and place. I would surely find a friend there. At the first Bunko, I looked at all the women and picked out a few "friend candidates." What a lot of these women had in common was a cute haircut, designer handbag, or stylish outfit. I thought surely one of these women would be my new friend. After getting to know these selected women, I soon found out that they were not the sweet person I was looking for in a friend. They were false friends, women who gossiped, didn't put their husbands and families first and, most of all, claimed to be wonderful Christians when their lifestyle proved otherwise. They were pretty on the outside, but ugly on the inside. So I kept searching.

Well, I finally did find the perfect friend. She was at the Bunco group with me on that first day, but I hadn't noticed her. She was very ordinary looking with reddish hair, simply dressed and somewhat on the plain side. I didn't choose her, but God sent her to me. My daughter was in school with her daughter and they had become friends. Through their friendship, we became friends. That was over 15 years and 4 moves across country ago. We don't see each other often, but we keep up through modern technology like Facebook and email. And when we do get to spend time together, it is like not a day has gone by. It is very true that beauty is on the inside. Just like a home. A home may not look perfect. It may not have the newest of everything, or designer colors. Your rug may not match your sofa. The drapes may be old or out of date fabric. But what truly matters is how people feel when they are welcomed inside. A house filled with love, laughter, family and friendship is much more important than one that is perfectly decorated. It is about warmth and hospitality. It is offering a glass of fresh lemonade to a neighbor who comes to the door. It is sharing a slice of pie with a friend. It is a pair of chairs that welcome friends to sit and stay a while. The most important thing is that people feel welcome when they enter your home. Feeling at home is much more important than having a perfect home.

A true friend is like a happy and welcoming home. It is what is in the heart of the friend and the home . . . . . .genuine love and hospitality.

Happy Decorating, Lisa

Photos over the years of my friend Lynn & our girls.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Inviting Guest Rooms

The art of hospitality wasn't invented by Southerners , but we certainly have perfected it. I'm sure you all know what a "happy" is . . . . . . you do if you are from the South. Several years ago I was wrapping a little gift for a customer who was traveling from up North. I commented on her taking the "happy" back home to her friend. She looked at me with a very puzzled look and said "Pardon?" I said a "happy", and she responded "What is a happy?" I proceeded to try to explain what it was, something you take if someone is sick, feeling down, having a birthday, or just because. She didn't seem to get it, sad to say. Anyway, I try to always bring a " happy" if I am a guest in someones home, invited over for dinner, or for any occasion that may call for one. There are many occasions to give them, just start looking!

Anyway, I am getting off subject on what I really what to say. What I want to talk about it our guest rooms. It is now vacation season and many of you are probably going to be having overnight guests staying in your homes. Have you took a look around your guest room. Is it a place you would want to stay? Is the mattress one that was discarded because it was old and worn out? What does it smell like? Is it musty and stale? Would you want to stay there if you were a visitor?

A guest room should be a "home away from home" for visitors, and making people feel cared is your job when you have overnight guests. Offer your guests the best room you have! Don't skimp on the furnishings and accessories. Your room should be bathed in a palette of cool, calming colors with plenty of light. A guest room is a wonderful place to showcase unusual or antique fabrics because these are areas that aren't frequently used and won't be subject to so much wear and tear.

Wash the sheets and blankets before your guests arrive. Spray with a linen spray. Thoroughly clean room including the closet. The little touches will make your guests' stay a memorable one. Fill the guest rooms with amenities, such as fresh flowers, a scented candle, bottled water and fruit. Don't neglect the necessities visitors will need for a comfortable stay, such as an alarm clock, extra hangers in the closet, luxurious towels and wash cloths, and extra pillows and blankets. Stock the guest bathroom with petite bottles of hair care and styling products, shower gels, toiletry items, and a hair dryer. Be sure to include the latest magazines that may cater to your guests interests. Above all else, cherish those people that come to stay, enjoy them and devote your time to them while they are guests in your home. God has blessed us with friends and families to share our homes with. Consider these people a gift from Him.

If you are a guest in someone's home this year, please remember to write a thank you and always take a "happy" with you for your hostess!

Here is my guest room in my home. I hope my guests that are coming next weekend will make themselves at home while they are with me. We are always so glad to see them.
A well stocked cupboardSparkling clean bath
Handy luggage rack
Comfortable chair
Luxurious bed & reading chair

Happy Decorating,

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Grouping Objects on Walls

I love groupings on walls . . . . . it just feels complete and well planned. I have always been inspired by photos I find in magazines of different collections. I have a file folder full of clippings I have saved over the years. I can still look at them and each time see something new, something that inspires me to look around my own home and wonder where I could hang one more thing. Putting together groupings takes thought and planning. It is just the right mix of elements that makes it work. Most people are unsure of how to achieve this, so they don't try. They are often afraid the wall will get too busy or cluttered feeling. I see many people will try to fill the wall or space with one big thing, thinking this is the only way to fill the space, when many things would be far more interesting.

Things to consider:

Hang objects that are like together, like a collection of plates or photos.
Think of common elements to make the grouping work, like using plates with a gold rim with a gold framed piece of art. This ties the two pieces together. Then mix in a gold relief to bring the whole thing together.
Using items of different materials, textures, etc. work together as well. Mix plates, iron, floral, and art to create an arrangement that is interesting.
Vary the size and shape of the objects. Round or oval plates with a rectangle picture can soften the edges and also add height and width to a picture.
Using a relief over a picture can add height and make the picture appear larger.
How to Hang a Grouping:

1. Lay out items on floor. Add and take away. Analyze what you have to work with. Do you need something else? Try grouping it many ways.

2. Once you are happy with grouping, make a pattern out of paper of all items. Place on the wall and see if the grouping works in your space. Adjust the pieces if necessary.

3. Hang with appropriate hardware.

Don't be afraid to put a grouping together. If you are unsure of how to make it work, bring in a photo of the space or the element you want to start with and we will be happy to help you add other objects to it. Happy Decorating, Lisa

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Happy Beach Vacation

While I am on vacation this week we have been taking long morning walks along the beach. I have enjoyed this more than anything else this week. We have found some seashells worthy of taking home, found a porcupine fish washed up on the beach, and rescued some shiny silver fish before the seagulls found them, and even rescued a seahorse that we first thought was a worm. Our walks have been very interesting, full of sea life, unusual tattoos, physiques that need larger swimsuits, and lots of sand.

I have been exposed to all the beach decor in all the shops and restaurants, etc. and started wondering how I would decorate a beach house if I owned one. We even picked out one we liked in an area called Watercolor. It was adorable, all the houses were painted pastel colors with large front porches with swings. Everyone rode bicycles everywhere and there were families everywhere with their children. It was like a storybook, it was love at first sight. What would I do, how would I decorate this cottage? Would I have coral, parrots, seashells, palms, fish, boats, and all the other beach decor? Could this decor make this country french girl happy? I don’t think so! I have had a lot of time to ponder this, and I know I would have to put my french touch on it. I wondered if I moved First Fruit Collection to the beach if my style would be accepted? What if I started “flipping” condos and decorated them “happy”? Would they sell, or would I go broke? Oh, the things you think about when you are on vacation.

Anyway, what I would do is keep it “happy” with all my happy touches, but I think I would go a bit softer on the base color. Like keeping everything a soft color with pops of color in my pillows, lamps, accessories, etc. I would do a soft neutral with natural fabrics of soft robin egg blue and cream and taupe. I would pop lime green, coral, and chocolate. Oh my what am I thinking?

I think I have had too much time to dream this week. Don’t worry, First Fruit Collection is safe in Collierville. A girl can dream. I’ll be back to reality next week and back to Collierville.
Happy Decorating, Lisa

Friday, June 4, 2010

Renewing The Old

Do you have a light fixture or a lamp that needs a new look? Is it too good to discard? Are the lines and form good, but the color not quite right? Maybe you don't think it is worth saving, that it could never be the look you want. Just look at what can be done.

We can make your old lamp or light fixture new again. We have repainted, reshaped, removed parts, or whatever it takes to make old lighting new again. We can recover or replace shades, add fabric or trim to existing shades, cover candle covers or replace old stained covers, make chain covers, or monogram shades.

Custom Painted Chandeliers (Before & After)
Custom Made Chandelier Shades & Candle Sleeves

Take a look at your lighting in your home. Is there anything that could be done to save the old and make it new? Would a new coat of paint or a new shade give it new life? If so, bring in a photo to First Fruit Collection and we'll give you ideas of how you can give life to an old chandelier or lamp. It will be less expensive than a new piece and you will be amazed at what we can do to a chandelier or lamp.

Happy Decorating

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Name "First Fruit Collection"

The most common question we hear at First Fruit Collection is "Where did you come up with the name?" We are often called Fresh Fruit or First Group. Many people call to order a fruit basket for a loved one. We are often mistaken for a collection agency. I never imagined that our name would cause so much confusion.

The name of our shop came from the Bible. A definition of First Fruit would include the first of anything, mainly referring to your best. Typically the First Fruit is your best fruit. First Fruits always come from the miracles of God, or from that which was produced by God. Man cannot produce crops. Man can only harvest the crops that God produces and gives to us. In Deuteronomy 8:18 God tells us that he gave man the ability to produce wealth. In other words, God gives us the ability to work and earn a living. We earn that income from our labor. Our labor is not holy. First Fruit offerings only came from God's labor and never from man's labor.

God is definitely at the center of everything that is done at First Fruit. He has blessed our shop with wonderful and gifted employees to help us always bring you our best. That is always our goal, keeping you first and giving you our best. May God bless each one of you as you are truly a blessing to us. Happy Decorating, Lisa

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

What is French Country?

What is Country French? Or is it French Country? Anyway, whether you call it Country French or French Country, you may wonder what it is? What makes a piece of furniture, fabric, rug, etc. specifically French Country? I will try to help you recognize this style of decorating by attempting to identify some of the key elements of this style. Hint: If you like First Fruit Collection, and our style portrayed in our store, you already like the style.

My first experience with French Country style was about 17 years ago. I had tired of the Queen Ann cherry furniture I had purchased for my home. I started feeling it was too dressy, too glossy and gave my home a very uninviting appearance. I feared using my dining room table with the smooth cherry top. What if someone scratched it, or left a wet glass there too long. It would be ruined for sure! I wanted furniture that I could use, where the scratches didn’t matter . . . but what would give me the dressy look without looking too dressy? I wanted casual elegance . . . I’m still a very polished girl, so I was not comfortable with shabby chic or cottage . . . not dressy enough! Oh, the dilemma I was in. What was I looking for? It was French Country!

I started looking at all the local furniture stores and decorating shops. I searched for over two years. I found a little french furniture, but it was very expensive and not exactly as casual as I wanted. There weren’t any shops specializing in the look I had grown to love. I couldn’t believe
it was that hard to find . . . was I the only one out there looking for this look?

This was the beginning of First Fruit Collection, 11 years ago. I longed to put together all those things I had been searching for. More than anything I wanted to be able to offer them at an affordable price. So now, all you have to do is come and visit us at First Fruit Collection, if you like French Country.

So, what makes something French Country?

• Bonnet tops on cupboards
• Barrel hinges on cabinet doors
• Carved arches on cabinet doors
• Carved scallop aprons on the base of cabinets
• Rush or cane seats on chairs or benches
• Ladder backs on seating pieces
• Curved legs on furniture, usually fatter than a queen ann leg
• Chicken wire on doors instead of glass
• Toile Fabric
• Provence fabric prints, (small rosettes, paisleys, little ditsy prints)
• French wire pieces, usually fine wire in a trellis pattern
• Rooster motifs
• Mini check prints, especially when mixed with toile or provence prints

These are just a few of the obvious characteristics of what I love. These are the elements that give First Fruit Collection our “Look”. These are the things that turn my head and give me that adrenaline rush. This is what I purchase on buying trips for the store. I hope you love them as much as I do. Happy Decorating! Lisa