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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

Sprucing the Kitchen

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Beyond the normal washing dishes, sweeping the floor, 
and cleaning the countertops, which are everyday sprucing up chores, 
what do you do for 

sprucing the kitchen 

when company is coming? 

Guests have always spurred me to do a little extra cleaning, 
to give the house a little extra spit and shine, and often provide 
the incentive to make a few changes that are on the to-do list. 


Last summer the chipped white paint on the shelf over the sink was stripped 
back to a natural pine finish, a much-needed step in freshening the shelf.  

For several years I have been changing the overall look to our house, and 
have been drawn to a Nordic fresh white look combined with French inspiration.   

In anticipation of upcoming guests, it occurred to me that 
this was the perfect time to freshen the shelf's look, 
to simplify the arrangement by removing some items.  

By removing the moss star topiary, a live ivy takes center stage, 
and the Eiffel Tower wall clock has more space around it. 
The shelf now looks fresher and more like the Nordic/French look I love. 

A second way to spruce the kitchen for guests is with 
fresh flowers on the kitchen island. 
Ivy tendrils from the yard give an airy graceful look to fresh peonies. 
Arranged by my talented sister, a floral designer. 

By using a tall vase, there is ample space on the counter for other dishes 
without making the island look crowded. 

As the peonies open, their color changes from a deep rose to a soft peach. 

The ivy with the peonies coordinates with the ivy on the sink shelf. 
Repeating the same kind of plant is a subtle way to unify a room's look. 

Most people are unaware of details that make a space pleasing to them. 
They know they like a certain look or a particular room, 
but cannot identify exactly what appeals to them. 
When sprucing a space, look for ways to repeat patterns, designs, 
or colors that will bring the space together. 

When you see a room or space that you find beautiful, 
analyze the composition, looking for patterns 
that will help you replicate a similar look in your own home. 

While the colors of the peonies do not exactly match the colors in the plates 
and the paper flowers on the shelf in the stone wall, 
some of the peony pink shades do repeat the plates' pink shades. 
There are also soft blues in the vine patterns of the plates that 
go very well with the other blues in the room. 

A quick peek at some of my latest finds from an antique fair in Hico, Texas. 
This handful of silver plate flatware includes a couple of pieces 
of hotel silver plate that will be used in a special project this summer. 

My to-do list seems to grow and grow without getting shorter 
even though I do get a few things finished, 
like sprucing the kitchen sink shelf just in time for guests. 

While I love peonies, I also love how these white lobelia flowers 
in a big white salad bowl have that Nordic white sparse look. 

Sprucing the kitchen ... 
1.  Simplify arrangements 
2.  Fresh flowers on the island 
3.  Repeat ivy on the island and sink shelf 
4.  Repeat color 

Sprucing the kitchen always makes me feel good. 

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  1. A breath of fresh it is!
    Your home is a dreamy place, Judith!

  2. What a beautiful home you have made, Judith. So welcoming. Deb

  3. Yes, yes, yes to the beauty of your kitchen, Judith your whole house is amazing. To remove items to allow the eye full appreciation is always spot on. But I'll share this with you - I have a prop closet that I store my favorite pieces that I rotate. Nordic whites are so calming. Love your bowl of lobelia, one of my favorites.

  4. Judith, those peonies are yummy! I love the way they look when they've fully opened up, and that color is so unusual. Love the lobelia too. I have it growing in outdoor pots, but mine are blue. Your kitchen is gorgeous!

  5. When dear Fifi O'Neill and her photographer came to our home in mid-April to shoot for an up and coming French Country Magazine issue, I spruced up the house the best I could. She brought in such a beautiful array of flowers that made the house truly look like a magazine. Now, I have fresh flowers in the kitchen ALWAYS, and it makes such a difference. It DOES make you feel good to have a tidy and stylish kitchen, bath and rest of the house!

  6. I love how fresh this looks! But why do we wait for company before getting stuff done?! Whenever I clean, my kids ask who's coming over!! Thanks for sharing your beautiful kitchen!

  7. Judith. Hello!
    There "has" been an issue with the comments not showing up in emails. I think it has something to do with Google plus. I am seriously considering a switch to Wordpress. I love the ease of Google blogspot. A new challenge couldn't hurt me, it's just so time consuming! Take care, my dear friend!

    1. Lynne, I've been experiencing the problems with comments not showing up in emails...I thought it was just me. A frustrating situation!

  8. Judith, the peonies and ivy are just gorgeous! I always try to have fresh flowers around. I usually start with doing the cleaning chores, which ends with me rearranging something or another on the kitchen counters. Of course, rearranging the counters causes me to rearrange some other things and then it is just a domino effect throughout the house. Beautiful as always!!

  9. I love the colours in your home.
    The peonies are delightful and add that finishing touch...

  10. Your home is always lovely, Judith! The fresh flowers and plants are gorgeous!!!

    Thank you for your kind visit over at my little blog. The doll is not for sale... she was a challenge to me to create in 3D for a French Theatre in December. As a child I had two dreams. To live in a small house in the mountains and to create art. Raising a family and a career in software took me in a different direction, but now I am returning to those dreams.

    I hope you have a beautiful weekend!

  11. The lobelias in the white bowl are something I would love to add in my kitchen, too.
    So fresh and inviting!

  12. Bill loves it when we invite people to our home… that means cleaning time! I agree with you, It’s the motivation to get things done that have been put off for a while.

    Your kitchen is lovely and welcoming as always and the special touches of fresh flowers and greeneries puts an extra shine to the room.

  13. Beautiful! Thank you for joining Home Sweet Home!

  14. Love the soft dreamy look. Those peonies - oh my! Just lovely. I am drawn to somewhat rustic Swedish style myself. Love how you have used that element with the French.

  15. Sprucing is always yields a pleasing result and guests are a great reason to work the never ending list. I love it that you feature fresh flowers so often. Your sister is a true artist! I love natural pine and the shelf looks wonderful. And I agree that repeating the use of a plant is a unifying technique. Ivy in particular is great with Sfrench touches! Enjoy your company! ~ Dana

  16. Gorgeous!
    Thanks so much for sharing at AMAZE ME MONDAY!


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