Halloween stuff still available at Stars

And I’ve marked a LOT of it down!   I will NOT be marking the Halloween down any further; and I’ll be removing it ON Halloween.  Gotta make room for CHRISTMAS!!

Published in: on October 26, 2012 at 4:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Faux cottage stone tutorial

Firstly, let me make a disclaimer:

I am not a professional faux painter.  I have seen some AMAZING faux work that you would swear was real.  I ‘wish’ I could paint like that! 

This is just a simple ‘make do’ version of  faux cottage stone that served my purpose.  I decided to take pictures of the process so that at the very least I could learn from my mistakes if it didn’t turn out to be usable.  (I didn’t have a lot of time to spend on it either.)  So, here’s how I did it.  Whether it be a lesson in ‘how to’ or ‘what not to do’!

The objective on this project was to hide the UGLY brown area below the storefront windows.  That area doesn’t look too bad in pictures, but up close it’s faded and dingy and blotchy and just plain ugly and very UN-cottagey!

Michael measured the spaces and cut the wood for me using 1/8″ luan plywood.  We were going to be just ‘setting’ the inserts in (so they can easily be removed) so we wanted the wood to have a little ‘flex’.

First, I painted all three boards gray.  (just mixed some black and white paints till I got a color I liked)  Once that was dry, I sponged on some carmel brown paint using a sea sponge.  Fully wet your sponge first, then completely wring out all the water.  Then put it in a towel and wring it some more.  You want it just damp enough to be soft and pliable, but not drippy.

Next I dry brushed on some off white in kind of a criss cross stroke.

Then I went back to using gray, but I ‘mixed as I went’ so as to have lots of varyong shades of gray.  Put a blob of each black and white paint in one tray, dab sponge in each color; then blend colors by dabbing a little on a separate tray or plate.

And I just kept sponging on the gray until I got the look I liked.

Ahhhhhh….good enough!

Then I painted my ‘grout’ lines.  Now I KNOW that the grout should have been a lighter color, but I went with black because my shutters were white and the frame for the area I was putting these faux cottage stone inserts was dark, and I felt it better to match them to the frame.

First I just painted the lines.  No particular pattern.

Then I went back and rounded out the corners.

And once dry added a coat of Varathane varnish.

Michael had to sand the edges just a bit more to get them to fit perfectly.  Whne we are ready to taek them out all we’ll have to do is slip a paint scraper into the edge and pop them out!

Voilla!!!  From strip mall ‘same old, same old’ to cottage!

The new storefront

A big part of my objective in doing the store make over was to make sure our store was ‘more noticeable’ when you looked down the row of doors and windows in the strip mall.  All too often I would watch customers go from the gift  store on one side of us to the gift store on the other side of us, but bypass our store.  Now maybe the primitive folk art look just wasn’t ‘their thing’ . . . so, I tested that theory:

When I saw this happen, I’d go and prop our door open so that when they came out of the neighboring store they’d be sure to notice that we were indeed another store there in the middle.  More often than not, that person WOULD come into our store and comment that they had not realized we were here!  They thought we were part of one of the other stores?!?!?

I guess probably because the other two stores each have TWO doors (only one of which allows access) and they just thought my door was another ‘dud’.  Plus the way the daylight hits the storefront windows, you could never really see INTO the stores.   And, all three of us stores would put product our in front. 

The product out in front of the store worked well for me when I was the only store there.  But once everyone else started doing it, I guess the three storefronts just all ‘blended together’.    So, I determined to no longer out product out in front of the store when we re-opened, but still wanted to dress it up a little.

Hence my ‘mission’ to come up with a way to ‘differentiate’ our store from the two on either side.  My first step was to cover the windows.   (the papered up door was just while we were closed)


 (how we did this window treatment in a previous post) Everyone thought I was crazy.  People LOVE to look in store windows.  But you could never really SEE what I had in the windows because of the glare!  AND I hardly ever sold anything that I had displayed in the windows!  It just sat there and faded in the light until I changed out the display.  And it was very hard to see the product displayed near the windows inside the store because of the glare.

I LOVE how the new window inserts made the store ‘feel’ once you walked inside.  LOVE the additional display space it gave me inside the store.  I was worried that covering the windows might make it too dark inside, but it hasn’t at all.  Still get lots of light from above the ‘fenceboard shutters’.

Here’s what I came up with for the new sign, and Michael (smiling even!) giving it a quick coat of additional varnish after he hung it.  We left the old sign up and made this one to fit right over it.  No sense in taking one down, filling holes and then making MORE holes!

But I still had that UGLY AREA below the outside of storefront windows to contend with.  Originally I had made some little primitive picket fence sections to pop in there to disguise it a bit.  But when the neighboring store decided they should do fence too, I took mine out.  I just HAVE to be different!

I had Michael measure and cut some pieces of 1/8″ luan plywood to fit inside the sections below the windows so I could paint them and cover up that ugliness.  My first thought was to paint them the same blue color as I was doing the signage in.  But decided on something more sublte and did a ‘faux stone’ look.   Here’s what I came up with:

The 2′ barn stars are hung on the outside of the windows with suction cup hooks.  figure I’ll change those out seasonally.   Three pretty fall wreaths next???

And a closer look:

Can’t wait till my wave Petunias grow more and are spilling over the sides of the pots!

(how I painted the faux stone coming up in a later entry)

So?????? Does the new storefront stand apart better than before????


The make-over is complete and the store is now OPEN!  Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyy too many pictures to try and post here in the blog.  Click on the Picturetrail link to tour the new shop.


Thinkin’ PINK!

This vintage shelf we bought at an estate sale some time ago was a nice soft aqua color, and I used it ‘as is’ in the store for quite a while.  Brought it home thinking I was going to freshen up the color with ‘that aqua’ that I have been using so much of.  But then decided that I had enough stuff painted that color for a while!

Was getting ready to paint this chair at the same time

And deciding on what color to paint these two little tables and big round tray.

I only ended up painting the bottom table for now, and the chair and shelf.  Decided to go pink.

And on all three pieces I sanded and distressed after the paint was dry.

On the shelf, some of the aqua shows through.  Although now with the top coat of paint being pink, the undercoat looks more sage green.  Which is fine because I like pairing pink and sage together!

Sanding the table and chair brought up some of the dark wood color.  Kind of that ‘pink and chocolate’ color combination that seems to be so popular right now.

Michael’s time saver

Michael made me this great BIG rolling table to use at the store during the do-over.

The leg structure had been tossed in a dumpster, he just added the wood top for me.  It has come in SOOOOOOOOOOOo handy!  Several of the big cupboards in the store that were full of stuff needed to be moved.  I unloaded the contents to the rolling table, moved the piece, then rolled the table to where I wanted to put the product!

A little progress . . . .

I got one little section of the store displayed!  This is directly to the right as you enter the store.  This riser is what Michael built when we first opened so we could display product towards the window.  The space underneath it has become valuable storage space, so even when we decoded to cover the windows, I decided to leave the riser.

I still need to buy new knobs for the dresser and small 3 drawer chest.  And probably not all of this stuff will stay right where it is.  I just needed to get all of that color of stuff in one space so I could start working on the next space.  The beachy blue theme will extend out onto the side wall eventually.  But this is as much as I could do for now.

As soon as I got this done and took the picture, I piled all the product from the next section of the store in front of it!  And that stuff is piled so high you can’t even see this display now!  That’s progress!  (????)

Published in: on July 2, 2007 at 6:43 pm  Comments (2)  

Cottage chaos

That’s what I’m calling the new look.  At the moment anyhow!

I hardly even know where to begin?!?!?!  Now that the inserts are in the front windows, I suppose I’ll start there, and work my way back


Michael said so!  He even said he’d put it in writing!  Here’s the ‘genius idea’.

 Our store is in an older strip mall so all the storefronts look pretty much the same.  The way the outside light hits the windows, there is ALWAYS a glare, so you can never really see what is displayed in the windows.  Any yet . . . . for 2+ years I have painstakingly displayed stuff in the front windows of the store!  Nothing ever sells out of the windows either. 

The other ‘issue’ with the windows and storefront is that people all too often overlook the fact that we are another store in between the ones on either side of me.

All three of us set product out in front of our stores during open hours, so I think people tend to look at ‘the stream of product’ and not realize it’s three separate stores.  Forget the fact that I have a HUGE sign above my store AND a sandwich board right in front of the door, and the writing across the tops of the windows.  All too often I would watch people go to the store on one side of me, then to the store on the other side, and skip our store.  Now, maybe our store just wasn’t their cup of tea.  But to test my theory that people didn’t realize we were another store between the other two, on slow days I would watch for customers who went to each of the other two stores, but skipped ours.  THEN, I’d prop open our door to see if that would get their attention.  And it did.  Every time!  And when they came into our store they’d exclaim they hadn’t realized this was another store here.

So, I was on a mission during the current ‘make over’ to do SOMETHING to our storefront to make it really stand out from the other two.   Firstly I decoded to stop putting product out in front of the store.  Thereby by making it look different from the two on either side. 

Since you can’t really see into the windows druing open hours, and since nothing displayed in the windows ever sells, I’m thinking, “WHY even use the windows?!?!”  But how to cover them???

I’d love to hang cafe curtains, but the windows are 6′ wide and have metal frames; so no way to hang curtains.  Then I thought maybe some sort of shutters.  But again, how would we hang the shutters.  And making 18′  of shutters would be an awfully big job.  So, my wheels started turning. . . . we have LOTS of sections of old fencing.  How could I use that in the windows???

Michael could cut them down to fit into the narrow window ledge, but how would we keep them from falling out?  (the windows shake a bit every time someone opens and closes a door on either side of us)

So, here’s my brainstorm:  Cut strips of 2×2’s; one the length of the window, and two to fit either side of the window.  By cutting them to an EXACT size, they could just be ‘wedged’ into the existing metal window frames.

The black is the existing metal window frame.  To the inside of it is the 2×2’s Michale cut and put in.  (top and sides only; not bottom)

Then he just cut the fence sections to fit inside the secondary wood window ftame.  (I had dry brush painted the fence sections white before bringing them to the store)  VOILA!!!!

 That’s how they look from the inside.  We brought some “L” brackets ‘just in case’ we needed to brace the fence to the secondary frame, but it fits so prefectly snug they weren’t even needed.  Thusly Michael declares my genius!

Here is how it looks from the outside.  The spaces under the windlws will be getting a ‘faux stone wall’ insert.  And we have two huge (ten gallon) pots to plant (something tall) to set on either side of the door.

And of course, a new storefront sign is in the wroks.

Published in: on July 2, 2007 at 6:31 pm  Comments (2)  

MORE boxes?!?!?!?

I arrived at the store a bit before 10.  Called in to one company to report a few damaged items from an order that arrived last week.  Made ‘coming soon’ signs to put in the windows and on the door; and put flyers with the new store info in a pocket on the door.


Then I started painting.  After painting the back and one side wall, I moved the bins of product that needs to go home to storage (for fall shows) to a spot right by the door so I had more working room to start unpacking the boxes that arrived the day before. 

Uh-oh!!!  I hear the UPS truck in the parking lot!  Maybe he’s delivering to someone else today.  But he stops right in front of my store.  I pop out and he tells me he has NINETEEN more boxes for me today!!  It took him a few minutes to compile them all and I dashed inside and pulled a table forward to the spot where the bins were earlier to make room  for the delivery.

Oh dear!  Oh my!!!  And I also had a car full of stuff to bring in!

It seemed like a good idea at the time!  It was looking like Michael was not going to be able to bring the trailer full of stuff to the store until Sunday.  So, I decided to take what I could (small stuff that didn’t stack well in the trailer) to the store each day to make room in the trailer for the other big stuff that is in a storage shed. 

Alas, just after UPS left, Michael called to tell me he was done for the day.  Did I want him to go ahead and bring the trailer now???  ACK!!!  I had been bugging him to bring it as soon as possible.  But then I wasn’t expecting all these orders to arrive until next week.  I probably should have had him wait, but I didn’t.

So, that’s 19 more boxes, one car load and one trailer load of stuff!

So much for being organized!!!  Good thing I have a month to straighten all this out!

Published in: on June 28, 2007 at 8:55 am  Comments (3)