Blog Description

A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

Pine Chest Vignettes | Fall and Winter

Sunday, August 12, 2018

F A L L   &   W I N T E R  


Pine Chest Vignette for Fall with Boo Boo Pumpkins
Last week you saw Part 1, Spring & Summer, vignettes on the pine chest that sits between my living room and kitchen. All with tips for how, where, and why to place items in arrangements. 

Here is Part 2, a collection of fall and winter vignettes. The collection is filled with easy to find, easy to do, and inexpensive items, and every arrangement has tips about how to create similar ones in your home.

Pine Chest Vignette Tips | Spring and Summer

Sunday, August 5, 2018

S P R I N G   &   S U M M E R 


As the seasons change, so does the vignette on the pine chest at the end of my stone fireplace. A few things stay the same year round. The lily print, the small lamp, and a varying stack of books anchor the chest's arrangements as seasons come and go. 

PIne Chest Vignette Tips Spring and Summer
As you look through the photos of how the pine chest vignettes changed during spring and summer of years past, watch the book stack go up and down in number and in change of titles. Notice also the changes in the base of the lamp. 

One of the ways I find ideas for new arrangements is by studying Instagram, Pinterest, and other blogs. Invariably something catches my eye and sparks a vision for the top of my pine chest. And, if the photographer/writer shares bits of her design process, I take note for ways to improve my own. Thank you, StoneGable,Home is Where the Boat Is, My French Country Home, . . . 

Then I dissect my mental notes for patterns, techniques, and principles. 

Just like attending interior design classes, but in my nightgown curled up in bed.  

You may find some of my insight for creating vignettes helpful to you in creating your own vignettes.  

Late Summer Patriotic Porch Ideas

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The beginning of August is not really late summer, but now is the time to think about your late summer patriotic porch ideas. 

Labor Day is a perfect time to decorate with patriotic items. By getting your ideas together now, you can decorate before Labor Day so you can enjoy the way your porch looks for several days, not just for the three-day weekend. 

five late summer patriotic porch ideas
PIN ⤴ to your patriotic board so you can find these ideas again. 

Ready to see ideas of how to give your porch a patriotic look? 

Summer French Country Living Room

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Summer in Texas is always HOT, and some summers hotter than others. The past few summers have been mild and spoiled us with temperatures that did not sizzle for prolonged stretches. 

But this summer's extreme heat is making up for those mild summer days and is playing a role in how my living room looks this summer. 

To help keep my French Country living room cooler during triple digit temperature days, we close the curtains. 

Summer French Country Living Room Closed Curtains
This summer has already broken highest temperature records on some days in July, and it looks like we are headed to break more records in days to come. 

New Backyard Retaining Wall With Old World Charm

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Even though it has been over a 100° for several days, we still have yard work to do. The backyard stone retaining wall had been listing for a few years, but this winter totally collapsed in two places. 

No getting around it any longer. The wall had to be replaced with a new one. The purpose of the retaining wall and terraces is to direct water away from the house and to control the direction rain water flows. 

Part of the dilemma was how to replace the old weathered Austin limestone wall with a new wall that would also have some old world charm of its own. 

Something French-inspired, but within the budget. 

Backyard Retaining Wall Blended With Existing Stone Wall With Old World Charm

Chandelier Envy

Friday, July 20, 2018

Chandeliers have never been high on my Wish List, until recently.  What do you do when you suddenly realize you have chandelier envy?

When you realize chandeliers in living rooms, over dining tables, in bathrooms, and even in greenhouses are classic French Country decor, you realize you NEED chandeliers to transform your American Country house to a French Country maison (home).

There are two chandeliers in my house already in the swing loft. I like them quite a lot, but they are not filled with French Country charm. 

chandelier envy for a french country style not a hunting lodge style
The fixture came with crystals, but I left them off. The crystals give a more formal look than I wanted for my post-and-beam country house when we installed the chandelier. 

Now, I am rethinking the crystals since they may give a little more French Country look than the bare metal branches. 

Blue Front Door Wreath | Door Trim Color

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Entry ways and porches provide protection from inclement weather, but they also welcome visitors to our homes. How do you say welcome to my home at your front door? 

Nothing is more welcoming than a pretty floral wreath. 

A grapevine with live flowers and greenery gathered from the yard made a fresh unexpected wreath for our blue front door earlier this spring. 

live flowers in a grapevine wreath on a blue front door
Granted, fresh floral arrangements on a front door last only a few days depending upon the outside temperatures, but live flowers and greens make a show-stopping arrangement to greet guests as they arrive for special occasions, like the book club meeting at my house.   

Every member of my book club commented on the wreath as they came into the house for our monthly meeting. They paused, touched, smelled, and examined the wreath. 

Several people were surprised the flowers were real, but some knew immediately because they could smell the flowers and herbs.  

Bastille Day Fireworks at Eiffel Tower

Saturday, July 14, 2018

J U L Y  1 4

bastille day fireworks at eiffel tower

What we know as Bastille Day in the United States is known as La Fête nationale française in France and is celebrated with  a concert and spectacular fireworks at the Eiffel Tower. 

If you love France or love fireworks, you will love the YouTube video of the 2017 La Fête national française - Paris - Tour Eiffel - 14 juillet 2017 (Feu d'artifice)  

The video begins with the crowd singing the French national anthem, La Marseillaise, followed by a live concert choreographed with fireworks at the Eiffel Tower for over thirty minutes. 

View in full screen so you can see the large outdoor screens at the bottom of each side of the picture. Those screens show aerial views. 

One of my favorite fireworks display during the presentation occurs around 4:45 minutes. 

b o n   f ê t e  

Greenhouse Dreams | Foxgloves, Chandelier, Glass Table

Thursday, July 12, 2018

When you daydream of a perfect greenhouse, do you see old pots, reclaimed glass French doors, chippy cabinets, brick floor, baskets, and foxgloves growing in sunlight? A rustic retreat filled with a jumble of clay pots, potting soil, seedlings, and watering cans scattered about in disarray on weathered wood shelves?  

Or do you see deep burgundy painted walls, white shelves, a carved pedestal with a glass top, plants in French urns, and a chandelier? Not so much rustic, but rather a working space in a well-worn gentil  (genteel) French florist greenhouse? 

greenhouse dreams with foxgloves and burgundy walls

Garden Shed Fresh Paint

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

G A R D E N   S H E D   F R E S H   P A I N T 

and a new exterior light fixture 

The garden shed, known affectionately as the Jardin Château by my family, needed some fresh paint after braving the first six winters of its new life. 

The beautiful little Jardin Château is home to my French Country Christmas Event each December, and you have seen lots of pretty pictures of it decked out in its finest. 

Today you are getting to see real life and how to deal with it so the little shed will continue to be beautiful for many more years. 

garden shed before fresh paint
The French doors were looking a little shabby due to their paint exposed to the elements. 

Plus, the fascia board above the front French doors was suffering from moisture damage and beginning to look a little moldy. 

Inspiring Creativity | No. 2

Sunday, July 8, 2018

This second part of the series Inspiring Creativity takes you behind-the-scenes to see the process of how a creativity team makes magic come alive in their inspiring decorations, photographs, and space transformations. 

Swans Swimming Tablescape 

While imagination is the spark that begins an idea, a table setting, or a large-scale backdrop, good old-fashioned hard work transforms an idea into creative reality. Along the way, revisions, re-dos, and improvisations bring an evolving creation to its finished state. 

Blue Silk Roman Shade Details

Friday, July 6, 2018

B L U E   S I L K   R O M A N   S H A D E 
for the master bathroom small window 

One more thing is accomplished on the master bathroom small vanity area to-do list. The changes to the small vanity area began in March of this year, almost four months ago. The original to-do list has been tweaked with new to-dos, but replacing the cotton balloon valance with a more French country look window treatment was one of the things on the original list. 

French Country Silk Roman shade Details
I bought the multi-blue and white striped silk fabric over ten years ago with the intentions of making a gathered skirt to wear to formal events, but no longer needed formal wear before the skirt was made. 

Set a Stars and Stripes Patriotic Table

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

S E T   A   S T A R S   &   S T R I P E S 

P A T R I O T I C   T A B L E 

without using flags 

Setting a table that pays tribute to our biggest patriotic holiday of the year takes only a few key things. What is the first thing you think of when you see red, white, and blue used together? 

Patriotic . . .  So do I

set a stars and stripes table setting with white stars, French vintage linen towel, blue hydrangeas

Under the Peony Spell

Thursday, June 28, 2018

P E O N I E S  

... cast a spell on flower lovers. 

As long as I can remember, I remember my mother loving peonies. And, her mother loving peonies. Hydrangeas and peonies. 

Now, my sister and I, are under the spell of peonies and hydrangeas and love them. 

Under the beautiful peony flower spell for generations

And, my aunts, cousins, and distant relatives twice-removed(?) loved peonies. All were under the spell of tissue petals that hang heavily, touching the grass, after a rain. 

Actual relationships are now murky after so many years. So many are no longer alive. How was I related to those women? Are they relatives on Mother's side of the family or Daddy's side? I see their faces, can recall their names after pondering a moment, hear snatches of past conversations, but how were we related? 

Regardless, they all loved peonies. My family has been under the peony spell for generations. 

New French Country Dining Chairs | 6 Features

Monday, June 25, 2018

When you are looking for specific pieces of new furniture, say French Country dining chairs, what is your overall approach? Could it be, you and I approach furniture buying similarly?  

French Country dining chairs with antique French table in breakfast sunspace
Here are things I do in general when looking for furniture, and what, specifically, I looked for in new French Country dining chairs. 

Black French Country Clock Summer Time

Saturday, June 23, 2018


Summer solstice arrived with its greatest number of sunlight hours per day. Summer . . .  we looked forward to you, anticipated your arrival with great happiness. A season of joy cultivated in childhood as school dismissed for summer vacation each year. 

Looking forward to summer is so ingrained in us, we continue to feel the joy each summer even though we do not have a long summer break from our jobs. 


Black French Country Clock Summer Time
Time seems to move more slowly in summer at our house. Is it a mind trick caused by more hours of daylight? 

French Country Summer Swing Loft

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Welcome to the swing loft all decked out for summer with French Country decor. Almost everything new to the swing loft was in other rooms in my house, except for the new French Country white garden urn. And a new little lampshade.  

This spring has been a very good season for finding new French Country items to mix with my existing decor.

French Country Summer Swing Loft Crepe Myrtles

French Country White Urn

Monday, June 18, 2018

This year has been a very good year for finding French garden urns. Not only did I find a collection of French-style garden urns from a local nursery, I also found a beautiful French Country white urn from a wholesale supplier in late March. The urns were shipped in May, and everything looks beautiful in them.  

French Country white urn filled with pink crepe myrtle blooms
To add a French Country flower arrangement to the swing loft in my house, I filled one of the French-style pedestal urns with crepe myrtle blooms from my back yard. 

French Country Style For Bathrooms

Friday, June 15, 2018

Adding French Country to a bathroom can be as easy as adding accents. Ready for ideas about which accents/accessories will give your bathroom French style? It is easier than you may realize. 

Begin with one piece of French Country furniture to add instant French decor. A small chair or an ottoman gives you a place to sit near a bathroom's vanity, and either a chair or bench is an easy way to add French Country charm to any space. 

For small spaces like bathrooms, one small chair or bench makes a big impact in setting the room's style. 

French Country Style for Bathrooms begins with a small toile bench

Inspiring Creativity | No. 1

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Creativity is within all of us. And there is more than one kind of creativity. Defining creativity is even an exercise in creativity itself since there is more than one aspect to the definition. 

Some people may seem naturally creative, but chances are their creativity was inspired and nurtured over the years and flourished as a result. Where and how is creativity inspired and nurtured? One way is by being around people who share their creativity and who explain their creative process. 

Thus begins a new series. 

inspiring creativity series with wood imprinted pencils dream create inspire imagine

Indoor Swing Loft Tour BEFORE French Country Changes

Thursday, June 7, 2018

When you live in an area with hot, hot summers you can still enjoy sitting in a swing sipping iced tea. Just create a space indoors to set up as an indoor porch ... like our loft that looks out large windows to treetops. 

Indoor swing loft looks out large second story palladian window

Small Vanity Master Bathroom | Update 2

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

A few changes to the small vanity in the master bathroom began around the second week of March. On April 19, I shared the progress of the changes. Today is update #2 on changes to the small vanity area in the master bedroom. 

Everything on my to-do list is not finished, but most items are checked off, plus a handful of items added during the work also have been completed. 

Here is how the small vanity area looks today. With just white paint, a new mirror, and some electrical connection changes the space looks much brighter. 

small vanity painted white with a new white wood carved mirror

5 Features in Floral Gardening Shoes

Monday, May 28, 2018

If you love gardening, you probably garden in all kinds of weather. Sunny, warm, hot, cold, and even rainy weather. Some days are easier than others. On those days that are not so easy, special gardening shoes with great features make gardening in messy, rainy weather more fun than slogging about your muddy garden in canvas tennis shoes. 

5 features in floral gardening shoes to watch for

New Internet Policies For You AND Me

Friday, May 25, 2018

Technology and I have a love-hate relationship. I love having access to shopping online, emailing my friends, sharing photos, checking the weather, reading blogs with great new ideas, recipes, projects ... 

At the same time ... 

I struggle with learning all the new things in technology and keeping up with changes. The internet is moving at light speed, making my head spin some days, as I try to keep my balance. 

Laptop with New Internet Policies For You and Me

New French Garden Urns

Monday, May 21, 2018

How do you get a French look in your garden? 

One way that guarantees to take your garden from a beautiful collection of plants without a defined style to a French-inspired style is to use plants like those grown in France ... 

... and to plant them in garden urns with classic French design. 

New French Garden Urns in 2 sizes and 2 shapes on the potting bench
Two-balled topiaries, single-ball ivy topiaries, triple-ball myrtle topiaries, and cone-shaped rosemary topiaries have not been too difficult to find for both my inside and outside gardens, but affordable French garden urns are another story. 

Garden Shed Budget Wood Butcher Block Counter

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Countertops Part 3 | Garden Shed 

Butcher Block 

The third in a series of three posts about budget wise countertops. 

Garden sheds are buildings made from dreams, after building the main house. Years of sketching diagrams on long winter nights, of saving reclaimed materials, and of collecting photos stuffed into shoeboxes and garden shed Pinterest boards keep the dream alive. 

Most often a garden shed is built with an even tighter budget than your home. Salvaged windows, doors, sinks, faucets, and counters along with DIY homeowners play major roles in making a garden shed affordable for most of us. 

The le jardin château (garden castle) in my backyard fits that description almost to a T. 

Budget Wood Butcher Block Counter In Backyard Garden Shed

Magnolia Garden Ideas To Make Your Own | Part 3

Monday, May 14, 2018

Have you planted your tomatoes? How about sugar snap peas? Or sweet pea flowers? Spring is THE time to get our gardens planted, but it also the time to try out some great gardening ideas you found in seed catalogs, gardening centers, blog posts, Pinterest boards, and visiting gardens in person.

If you want a little more inspiration for your garden STRUCTURES, take a look at what I found in my visits to Magnolia Market in Waco, TX. 

This is the final post, Part 3, in a series of Magnolia garden ideas to make your own. Links to Part 1 and Part 2 are at the end of the post. 

🌿 Garden Idea ❹ : STRUCTURES    

  • G A R D E N   S H E D  
Magnolia Garden Ideas to Make Your Own from Magnolia's Garden Shed

Bathroom Budget Wise Cultured Marble Countertop

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Countertops Part 2 | Bathroom 

Cultured Marble 

The second in a series of three posts about budget wise countertops 

Budget wise cultured marble countertop with ogee edges in a vintage pine washstand
Finding antique and vintage pieces to use in a new house is a way to add character and to make a house your own. A vintage washstand in weathered pine with hand-carved doors makes a perfect bathroom vanity with patina that a new vanity does not have. 

And, if an old washstand has a white marble top, even more patina to love and to cherish. Unless ... the marble top is broken into two almost equal pieces. 

Magnolia Garden Ideas to Make Your Own | Part 2

Sunday, May 6, 2018

In Part 1 of this series of garden ideas from Magnolia in Waco, Texas, PLAN and WALKWAYS were the two ideas from Magnolia Market's gardens you can study for ways to use them in your own garden. Those were just the beginning of so many garden ideas you can make your own. 

Once you have a plan to organize your designs, and walkways to define your garden areas, you are ready for the fun part ... adding plants. Part 2 looks at the different ways Magnolia Market created a beautiful garden filled with a variety of plants and containers. 

🌿 Garden Idea ❸ : PLANTS  

Magnolia Garden Plant  Ideas to Make Your Own
Flowers, vegetables, herbs, and fruit trees are all part of the Magnolia gardens with great design ideas anyone can copy in their own gardens at home. 

Kitchen Budget Wise Laminate Counter

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Countertops Part 1 | Kitchen
The first in a series of three posts about budget wise countertops 

budget wise laminate counters in blue and white country French inspired kitchen
While homemakers dream of luxury marble, quartz, granite, and wood countertops, reality often calls for budget wise laminate kitchen counters. And, budgets are not the only reasons for choosing laminate countertops. 

French Wire Baskets | Moss

Sunday, April 29, 2018

M O S S 
the unsung hero of French wire baskets 

An inexpensive fresh flower arrangement can always be made from 4-inch starter plants from the local nursery. Need a quick, easy arrangement as a table centerpiece for a party, birthday, or luncheon that you and your guests will absolutely love?  

French Wire Basket With Blue Sage and Moss

Magnolia Garden Ideas To Make Your Own | Part 1

Friday, April 27, 2018

Sometimes the best ideas come from unexpected places, when you are not looking for them. To get gardening ideas is not why most people go to Magnolia Market at the Silos in Waco, Texas, but much to my delight on my visits there I discovered the Magnolia complex is a blueprint of gardening ideas. 

There are so many great garden ideas gathered from Magnolia Market, I am sharing two of them, PLAN and WALKWAYS, as Part 1 in this post and will share more ideas in additional posts. 

This series of posts will help you create a garden of your dreams. Who better to learn from than a woman, Joanna Gaines, who made her dreams come true? 

🌿 Garden Idea ❶ : PLAN  

Magnolia Garden Ideas to Make Your Own Dream Garden
At the main entrance to Magnolia Market is a site map to help visitors find their way around. The map also illustrates the first great garden idea: PLAN. 

Home Renovations | Thoughts About Beautiful Images

Sunday, April 22, 2018

While you are mulling over your thoughts about budget wise countertops, or why white is timeless decor, or 7 ways to add French style to a bathroom, may I ask you to mull over something else about home renovations, also? 

Recently I began thinking about what others write about home renovations and how it relates to home decorating and blogging. The whole point of this blog is to share beautiful images and thoughts about beautiful images for our homes and gardens. 

Master Bath Small Vanity Progress

Thursday, April 19, 2018

When you last saw the master bathroom's small vanity area, the vanity was its original lightly stained wood finish, turned reddish, from thirty years ago. Finally, this spring work began to update the old vanity area from its American Country look. 

Here we are, 5 weeks after work began. 

Master Bath Small Vanity A F T E R Painting 

the FINAL coat of white paint 

The first of several planned changes this spring include painting the vanity white, but the number of times the vanity would be painted and the number of colors of white were not listed in the published plan I recently shared.  

Why not? 

DIY Wood Bathtub Tray | French Country Charm

Sunday, April 15, 2018

While refreshing our master bathroom I looked for ways to add more French Country charm to the bathtub. 

DIY wood bathtub tray adds French Country charm in master bath
What was I looking for? Something beyond the French Country chair, French script candle, carved pedestal, and natural cotton bath mat. 

7 Ways to Add French Country to a Master Bath

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Adding French Country style to a new home or a fixer-upper is easier to do than adding French Country style to an existing home. When you build a new house, you can include architectural details with French roots from the ground up. Fixer upper projects often include major renovations for floors, windows, room layouts, plumbing, appliances, and/or built-in cabinets. All offer ways to include French style. 

But, what about when you want to add French Country style to an existing room without remodeling? The good news is you can make changes to your rooms that will give them French style without changing the structures. With a little practice for looking at your existing rooms from a fresh perspective, you will begin to see changes you can make. Each new change will spark ideas for more changes. 

add French Country style 7 ways to existing master bath without remodeling
To get your creative decorating ideas flowing, take a look at seven ways you can add French Country style to a master bathroom... without making structural changes

Notes From The Country | No. 3

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Living in the countryside means getting to enjoy the changes of seasons up close. Every day in the spring is exhilarating with all the new life emerging. Each day something new is noted. Fits and starts of warm days, of cold days, of rainy days, of overcast days, and of BRILLIANT blue sky days make each new bit of green a cause for celebration. 

C E L E B R A T I O N 

for birds and critters 

Wild dewberry blooms in the country
Wild dewberry vines will provide berries for birds before summer comes. The berries are always small and unappetizing for picking for us, but just right for the birds. An old hollow stump makes a good shelter for country critters. 

Kitchen Island Spring Nesting | Design Challenge

Friday, April 6, 2018

Spring brings out the feather-my-nest instincts to create pretty arrangements on the kitchen island. Then over the course of several days I continue to fluff my nest by adding some elements, removing some items, and rearranging others. It reminds me of a saying my mother had, "Can't get your nest made?" 

kitchen island spring nesting arrangement design challenge

New Hardwood Floor Refinish Update and Discount Code

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

{Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Rug Pad USA. I receive compensation for working with Rug Pad USA, but all opinions are honest and my own. Plus, there is a discount code for my readers so you may want to read about why quality rug pads are important to protect all your flooring and area rugs.}

 H A R D W O O D   F L O O R   U P D A T E 

One Year Later 

Living Room Oak Flooring BEFORE Refinishing 

One year ago we had our hardwood oak floor in the living room refinished. Our house is thirty years old, and the oak floor has been refinished once before. Yes, it was time to refinish the floor again last year, and this year I am sharing an update on the refinished oak floor.  

New Hardwood Floor Refinish Update Before Photo
The original oak floor was finished with a white-wash stain that kept the floor light, but allowed the wood grain to show through. The finish complemented the exposed natural pine beams and rafters in our post-and-beam house. 

One of the main reasons the floor needed refinishing was my beautiful black-background wool needlepoint rug had discolored the floor over time... even though there was a rug pad under the rug to protect the floor. 

Spring Potting Bench Flowers

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

F A V O R I T E   B E D D I N G  P L A N T S  

Nothing says spring has really arrived better than your favorite bedding plants showing up at your local nurseries. Once spring flower bedding plants arrive at plant stands, then they make their way to potting benches getting ready for spring gardens. 

spring potting bench flowers
At least that is what happens at my house and on my back porch potting bench. Every year my plan is to plant my new favorite bedding plants as soon as I get them home. But, every year my good intentions get waylaid.