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Dream Home News, Issue #005 -- The Summer Holidays Hangover Issue
September 01, 2008

Hello, and welcome to the fifth issue of Dream Home Decorating News - THE SUMMER HOLIDAYS HANGOVER ISSUE (September 1, 2008).


  1. Publisher’s Note
  2. Tip of the Month: Extend the Summer with Custom Made Wall Art!
  3. Legal Stuff

Publisher's Note

Great to be back in touch with you! I hope you've had a nice summer so far ... here in England, we're still waiting. But what can you do - cast a wistful glance back over July and August and reach for the woollies!

Before I launch into the somewhat lengthy (but very informative!) 'Tip of the Month', let me just quickly update you on the last 62 days.

A few weeks ago, HCI Books (the publisher best known for their Chicken Soup for the Soul series) contacted me. They said they loved my site, and would I like to contribute a chapter to their upcoming book, 'The Ultimate Christmas' (due out in November)? I was thrilled, of course, and wrote an article about "Clever Craft Gift Ideas for Grown-Ups".

Then I started putting ideas together for a re-design of the site navigation, to make sure you can always find what you're looking for, and find it fast. I have now hired a very good "tech" expert, who is currently working on a completely new look & feel for the site, including a new section in German.

Thirdly, I have been doing some "proper" design work in preparation for an online shop with It will be up and running by the time the next newsletter comes out on November 1 (yep, just in time for Christmas!)

So now you know why all those new pages I promised for the site are still simmering on the back burner! Well, I can't wait to get writing again, with a brand spanking new site design that I hope you will enjoy and find easy to use.

The following "Tip of the Month" is part of the Home Decorating Trends theme that persistently tops our eZine readers' wish list. (Thank you very much for making your wishes known – your feedback is invaluable!)

More and more people are now creating homes that show their personality and their unique story - rather than aiming for sheer size, luxury or glamour. People want to put more 'soul' into their homes. Here's a new collection of ideas to help you do exactly that. Put your summer holidays to extended use with some of the tips below!

Extend the Summer
with Custom Made Wall Art

Whether or not you have been away in the summer ... just think of something exciting, inspiring, or fun you've done recently. Lazed in the sunshine? Been on an exhilarating adventure and come home in one piece? Read a really cool book over the weekend? Use your happy memories in stylish ways to fill your home with an upbeat vibe.

1. Images

Pictures are great reminders of good times. (Keep a few of your favorite feel-good photos in mind as you read on!)


A single, small holiday photo on the wall will look a bit lonely, but a whole series of them can make an eye-catching statement and turn your vacation snaps into custom made wall art.

Imagine, for example, a New England style home, with the wall space above the sofa covered in a row of 'beach fun' snapshots, all mounted in identical blue-and-white striped matting. Or a photo series of your kid making funny faces under a battered straw hat, all framed and sitting on a shelf – together with the original straw hat.

To create coherence in a group of pictures, you can either choose a unifying theme (for example a color scheme, architectural details, different landscapes, breakfast settings, action snapshots ... or that straw hat). Or, unify the collection through the way you mount and frame the pictures (e.g. the color of the mounts, the size/color/shape of the frames).

There are different ways to group the pictures for greater impact. For example, arrange them in a row (with identical matting and frames), or one row above another, or groups of two-above-two. You could cover a rectangular area with pictures in different sizes, or create a jumbled cluster with different style frames.

Experiment with printing your pictures in black-and-white or sepia tones – monochrome photos can look very classy and are well suited to custom made wall art. Also, consider using mounts in colors that complement your interiors. For example, imagine a group of Parisian street scenes in sepia, mounted with matting in mix-n-match retro colors, right next to your Fifties sofa. Or a bunch of fuzzy snapshots involving your kids, a dog and a football, down the hallway in striking, rich red mounts – exactly the color of the hallway carpet.

Large Scale

Turning a vacation pic into a major feature can set the tone for the whole room and lift your mood every time you look at it. You could enlarge a photo, a post card, an entry ticket to a special place or event, or even a batch of beautiful stamps, and turn them into large-scale canvas prints. If you've taken a series of photos across a wide landscape, you could line them up as canvas prints along a wall to recreate that view.

There are literally hundreds of specialist companies who offer this service, many of them online. They can print interesting formats, triptychs, even wallpaper. (And they don't stop there. Apart from custom made wall art, you can have storage boxes covered in your favorite photos, as well as notebooks, bags, aprons, roller blinds or folding screens. You can also have your photos "posterized" or turned into pop art if you want.)

Now, this isn't exactly cheap, so it makes sense to get advice before you spend a lot of money. Some companies offer a professional photo editing service before printing, and will contact you if they think the picture isn't quite right for the purpose.


If you've read a great book this summer, consider writing (or printing or calligraphing) a few quotes from it and framing those. Try out different fonts in your computer's text editor. Vary the format: contrast dense, small type in one frame with just a few bold words in another. Print the text out on high-quality, bleed-proof card. Mount the text snippets with a colored border or in colored mats; play around until you have created a piece of custom made wall art that is truly "you".

2. 'Traveling' Exhibitions

Do you pick things up on the beach? Do you sometimes keep sweet wrappers if they're pretty? Do you collect fossils, interesting buttons, whacky jewelry or exhibition catalogs? Do you end up wondering where on earth you're going to put it all?

Shadowboxes or box frames are a great device for turning souvenirs into temporary, 3-D custom made wall art. Like framed pictures, they work much better in groups than on their own, particularly if you color co-ordinate them by painting or 'wallpapering' the inside of the boxes (or the outside, or both).

Try combining them with a row of hooks along the bottom of a row of box frames, and use these hooks for some more of your treasures. A beautiful scarf, a fun backpack, a pair of "historic" canvas sneakers hung up by their laces, your favorite leather purse, the Panama hat you wore at the seaside this summer - all these work well in a collection, as long as you stick to a theme and/or a color scheme. (Neutrals plus one color family is a safe bet.)

3. Job Descriptions for Souvenirs

Beyond custom made wall art, there are many other ways to make the most of your souvenirs. One of my favorites is re-purposing. For example,

... cover a notebook or folder with a collage of vacation memorabilia: photos, restaurant bills, ticket stubs, maps. Protect the collage with a transparent cover.

... wrap a box lid, or a book, in a cut-to-size foreign shopping bag (paper or plastic).

... fill a smallish, shallow glazed bowl halfway up with pebbles: makes a good soap dish. (Alternatively, try a large seashell.)

... get that little vase in bright Mexican colors to hold some pens and pencils for you, or a posy of fresh kitchen herbs. Colorwise, it's like a bouquet of flowers, only 'upside down'.

... fill an antique kitchen container (for example the one with the missing lid, that says "Sugar" on the front) with paintbrushes, cooking utensils, knitting needles, or a bunch of feathers you've picked up someplace exotic.

... convince two colorful olive oil cans from Greece to house an ivy plant each. If they refuse, fill them with sand and get them to start a new life as bookends.

There. That's my little list of suggestions. You've probably had some ideas yourself, and if you feel like sharing those, it would be great to hear from you. Your contribution will be published on the site by the end of this year!

Legal Stuff

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"See" you again on November 1, 2008!
All the Best to You,

Renate Hering-Shepherd
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