Category Archives: Interiors

Grab Bag- CIRCA


Lots more here!

Repurpose- Paperback Books


There are lots of fun ways to repurpose old books. For this simple project, I covered a few discarded paperbacks in hand-printed art paper from Blick. I left two issues in their new dust jackets. With the third, I added a leather tie attached to the spine by a tiny brass fastener. Later I’ll fill the book pages with messages written in marker (going right over the original text) and images from magazines.

What You Need-

Printed paper, scissors (if you need to cut the paper), leather ribbon (available at craft stores like Jo-ann’s), pencil, sewing pins and small fasteners.


Remember covering books for school? The same method applies here.


 If you want to add the tie- Cut a length of leather ribbon. Find the midway point and put a hole through the leather with a sewing pin. Take a tiny fastener and slip it into the hole. On the printed cover, mark with a pencil the center of the book spine. Pierce the right side of the paper with the fastener. Carefully fold back the metal wings. Replace your dust jacket flap. Close up book with the leather tie.


(Photos & Styling- © 2014 Martha Browne)

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Decorating@Nibs- More Fireplace Mantels

Fireplace Mantel #18- A Botany Lesson


It always amazes me how color and texture can change the whole feel of a room or this case the whole feel of a fireplace mantel. My historical mantel went from yellow-gold to a bright mossy green. And what a difference!



1. Cover walls with this fabric from Ikea. Here’s how. You can either- a. Prep walls with a special sealer and spread on a paste that’s made for fabric. b. Furring strips (thin pieces of wood) are spaced (fabric width) and nailed to the wall. Then you shoot staples through the fabric into the strips. c. The easiest method is to use a staple gun and shoot directly into the plaster/lathe or sheetrock.

Apply natural objects to the fabric walls (pressed flowers, leaves, nests, sea shells, insects,etc.) with small nails and/or hot glue.


2. Paint trim with Behr (at Home Depot) in a custom mix that matches the fabric background.


3. Prime and paint fireplace mantel Benjamin Moore #434. Next carefully cover the mantel shelf with sheet moss held in place with staples. Side Note- Another idea is to wrap the mantel completely in moss.


4. Mantel Accessories- Crane claw bookends, books, bell jar, postcard, turtle shell, animal skull, rocks, seed pods and dried plant clipping.


5. Other- Antique woven chair, paper wasp nest, binoculars and a stone vase that holds my great-grandmother’s walking stick.


(Styling & Photos- © 2014 Martha Browne)

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Garden Note #88: Seed Packet Plates

opt-creative-packaging-seeds-crate-&-barrelSet of six plates with graphic vegetable designs. Perfect for outdoor entertaining or displayed on a kitchen wall.

Dream Real Estate

Pre-Railroad Homes …The first period of American folk architecture built by European colonists spanned the long interval between the earliest permanent settlements of the 1600′s and the growth of the railroad as an efficient national transportation network (in the 1850′s)…” – from the book  ‘A Field Guide To American Houses’


John Burkett house c. 1790 in Waldoboro, Maine.


Alexander Kelly house c. 1842 in Carthage, North Carolina.


Princeton Homestead c. 1741- 1811 in Princeton, New Jersey.

IDEA- Frames & Staircase


 I never get tired of seeing an entire wall of artwork and photographs, especially up a set of stairs.

(Photo- Pottery Barn)

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Decorating@Nibs- More Fireplace Mantels

I enjoyed decorating a friend’s simple old mantel that I went hunting for one like it. After months of searching, I came across a mantel that was perfect for my new series on color. Now let’s have some fun and decorate!

Fireplace Mantel #17- Colorful Colonial


Inspiration for this mantel came from the Peter Wentz House in Worcester, PA  c. 1758. The bold color and sponged dots are part of the house’s  intriguing decoration.


I picked out Benjamin Moore paint colors that I felt were close matches- Stuart Gold (fireplace mantel), Black PM (trim & dots) and Simply White (walls). I suggest either a flat or pearl finish.



1. Prime and paint walls white.

2. To mimic the black dots, I used a sea sponge. Keep in mind, a sponge makes the dot shapes imperfect and that’s what you want. To do- Take your sea sponge and cut it in half. The uncut portion will be the part you dip in the paint. Pour a small amount of black paint into a pie pan. Then lightly coat the sponge. You may want to practice sponging the dots (2″ diameter) on some newspaper. You can measure and mark the walls with a pencil as to where to sponge (space 9″ to 12″ apart) or apply the dots freely…stepping back periodically to see where you need them.


3. Paint base molding black. I’ve read this was a common practice because of dirt. Side note- In a room setting, window trim would be painted gold.


4. Prime and paint fireplace mantel gold.


5. Mantel Accessories- Hand carved tray holds fresh pears, framed rooster needlepoint c. 1930s, black silhouette rooster cutting board, old metal spring with feather, iron hook, vintage dust broom, cut paper and antique crock.


6. Other- Amish straw hat, candle holder, candle, muck boots, redware bowl, antique barrel, chair and hand-loomed rag rug.

(Styling & Photos- © 2014 Martha Browne)

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Repurpose- Placemat

It’s so much fun to repurpose something. Here a simple woven placemat from West Elm becomes a chair pad in minutes.


Note- Placemats are sold online as a set. But I was able to purchase just one for under $6 at the store.


Placemat, fabric, 2 breadwrapper twist ties and a pair of scissors.


1. Poke a twist tie end into a corner of the placemat. Do the same with the second twist tie.

2. Then take your material and cut strips of 2″ wide x 27″ long (or longer if you prefer). Note- I tore my strips leaving the edges uneven and frayed.

3. Attach each fabric strip (at it’s midpoint) to the twist ties.

4. Put strips through the back of the chair and secure with a knot.

(Styling & Photo- © 2014 Martha Browne)

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Historic Map Works

maryland-050-optHistoric Map Works is an online site for map enthusiasts offering a number of area surveys in the U.S and other parts of the world. They also have amassed an assortment of black and white images of old houses, properties, bridges, etc. Many of these are available as prints suitable for framing.


Spring Cleaning


Illustrated French poster c. 1955