Linwood Gardens

Last weekend I got to enjoy one of the gems of the Western N.Y. region. I went to Linwood Gardens for their annual Tree Peony Festival. I was blown away not only by the Peonies but also by the majestic scenery, architectural details and sheer mass of the plethora of horticultural beauty (that’s a mouth full). What are Linwood Gardens? It is an historic, private estate that was created by William H. Gratwick II and is still owned by the family.

This weekend is the last weekend for the Tree Peony Festival, but there are Open Garden Days and Summer Workshops available during the summer season. The information is on their website:

Here is a small taste of the history of Linwood Gardens from the same website:

“William Henry Gratwick II, from Buffalo, created Linwood Gardens as a country home in the years between 1901 and 1910.  Architect Thomas Fox designed portions of the Summer House and all the original garden areas.

In 1933, William H. Gratwick III moved to Linwood with his family and set up the Rare Plants Nursery. The Japanese tree peony became a feature of the nursery and the gardens.  As an artist, landscape architect, and horticulturalist, W.H.G. III contributed sculpture and new garden areas to the Linwood landscape.  His wife, Harriet, directed a community music school on the property from 1947-1963.  Linwood also hosted a wide variety of cultural activities during those years.”

William Gratwick III working with the Tree Peonies.

Lee Gratwick, W.H.G. III’s daughter, is now living at Linwood and is working to preserve the tree peony collection, the gardens and the summer house.

This is the view from the house.

This tree was one of the first things I saw on my tour. Even though it has died the family has not removed it. I can understand why it is like an amazing piece of art. Beautiful!

More spectacular scenery of the gardens

Looking at this I wonder if the architect knew that his design would eventually have trees large enough to perfectly frame the garden ahead or that the bushes to the left would become an archway leading to another garden. If that is the case, he must have been extremely talented!

The gardens were beautiful but the addition of architectual detail throughout takes it to the next level.

As you stroll through Linwood you come across other gardens. They may not be Peonies, but they are just as lovely in their own right.

Another natural archway leading to a gate. I think the gates are used as pauses to prepare your senses to be ready for the next treat in store for them.

I liked this unexpected site of flowers running rampant within the boxwood border. It adds a little whimsey to your experience.

I had never heard of “Snow In Summer” flowers but I love them now!

Linwood offers scavenger hunts for children. One of the things they need to find is the “old man in the tree”. Can you see him?

The chapel is yet another piece of history to be found.

I love the stonework and archways.

Even though the inside is stone it felt very warm and welcoming.

Here we are at the “Piece de Resistance”! The Peonies. Since I can’t really describe their beauty, I will let the pictures tell the story.

The Peony was in full bloom and as magnificent as expected!

I will definitely be returning next year. There was too much to take in for one visit.

Ideas For Spring Patio Cleanup!

It’s that time of year to get ready for summer! I have already been working in my gardens but now it is time to tackle the patio. It needs a good clean and a pop of color.

Let’s see what I did!

The first part of the cleanup was the windows that look over the patio. They had collected a lot of dirt over the fall and winter months. I used vinegar and water and microfiber cloths. A friend told me about the microfiber cloths. They do an amazing job!

Nothing like clean windows!

Our wrought iron table and chairs also took a beating over the winter and needed to be repainted.

Using a wire brush, my husband smoothed out any rough edges and loose paint before spraying.

Then he used RUST-OLEUM flat black to spray paint them. We always use RUST-Oleum on our outdoor projects. It goes on easy and wears well.

The patio set after painting. It looks brand new!

Ready to pressure wash the patio. I was smart this time and wore boots. The last time I used a pressure washer my feet got soaked.

Once you get everything set up it is fairly easy to use.

What a difference!

We went to Wayside Garden Center in Macedon NY to pick out flowers for the two large pots I am going to use on the patio. Originally, I was going to buy individual flowers and create my own design but quickly changed my mind when I saw the hanging baskets.

I am so glad I went with the hanging basket option. They add the pop of color I was looking for and the combinations of flowers are beautiful.

I also picked up two ferns to add to the mix.

All the little touches made it feel so welcoming.

Here is the finished patio. The best thing is I only had to purchase flowers and plants. The rest I just shined up!

Guest Room Refresh Reveal!

Everything seemed to fall into place with my guest room refresh. I was able to find comforters that went with the bedding I found at Good Will. I had previously shared that the color on the walls worked perfectly which it does, but one wall needed to be touched up. I really did not want to paint the whole room, so I scraped off a large chip of paint and took it to Home Depot for a color match. It ended up being very close and unless you know, you would not be able to see the difference (don’t tell anyone). As I went along, I kept finding everything I needed, and the end result is amazing!

This is the bedroom that needed a refresh. The room served my boys well when they were growing up and my younger son uses this version when he comes home to visit. But as a “guest” bedroom, it just doesn’t make the cut.

The idea for the refresh started when I found these Pottery Barn pillows with down inserts at Good Will. I loved the pattern so much it became the jumping off point for guest room.

I decided to try my luck again at Good Will taking one of the pillow covers to match. I ended up finding 2 gray striped pillowcases, a throw blanket, and another set of decorative pillow covers all in the same gray shades.

As much as I love the pattern on the Pottery Barn pillows, I really wanted to avoid making the room all about yellow. I found this picture at yet again Good Will for $17. It had gray and yellow in it but it was very subtle. Exactly what I wanted to achieve.

I already had these New Yorker prints downloaded from Etsy and found the frames at Home Goods in clearance for $22. They were a little dinged up but you couldn’t tell because of the matte finish.

To fill out the last wall I used a print I had in our basement rounding out the New Yorker prints with this famous New York photo.

Keeping my refresh on a budget, I decided to reuse the table that has been in the boys room. It definitely had seen better days.

I spray painted it using Rust-Oleum Aged Gray matte chalk paint.

I also reused the lamp spraying it with Rust-Oleum matte black paint and replaced the shade with a white one from Walmart.

I was going to use these drapes or the ones in my husband’s office, but I wanted something with a lighter feeling. I found these at Home Goods for $26.

I also purchased 2 gray box pleated bed skirts, 2 down alternative white twin comforters and a gray and yellow 3×5 rug.

Let’s see how it all turned out!

I could not find another gray throw like the one from Good Will, but I did find a yellow one that I really liked. What do you guys think of having two different color throw blankets?

The table and lamp came out great. I really like the matte finishes.

I really like that large piece of artwork and the way it goes with the bedding.

Already for some guests!

Good Will Finds For A Guest Room Refresh!

I have needed to refresh our guest room since my oldest son took up residency in our finished basement. It is fine when my younger son comes to visit but not for out-of-town guests that are coming to town.

It really isn’t that bad, but it needs a little pick me up. The paint color is fine, but it needs new bedding, window treatments, a lamp, and artwork.

I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, so it was off to Good Will in search of bargains!

This is the room in question. It definitely screams boy. I am going to try and salvage the table with paint. Not sure of the color yet. The shape of the lamp is good but this will also be painted and needs a new shade.

First thing I found were three Pottery Barn pillows with down inserts. Love the paisley print and the colors are perfect!

Next up were two gray striped pillowcases that will go with the white sheets I already have.

If that wasn’t enough, I came across these geometric covers that pick up the gray in the Pottery Barn pillows!

I could not believe my luck!

As I was heading to the cash register, I saw this throw and picked that up also.

The Pottery Barn pillows were $4.00 each, the geometric covers were $2.99 each, the striped pillowcase were $1.00 each and the throw was $4.00. I already have white sheets so the only thing I will have to purchase new is a comforter or quilt. The savings at Good Will offset the cost nicely.


I still am going to paint the lamp and the table. The drapes in my husband’s office will work in here nicely (I haven’t shared that with him yet though).

Stay tuned for a reveal in the next few weeks!

Trash To Treasure Bar Cart Before And After!

I have been looking for a bar cart for our patio, but the cost really surprised me. The prices range anywhere from $200-$600 even on Facebook Marketplace. With this realization, the bar cart was moved way down on the list of priorities.

Having already put the idea of a bar cart out of my head, one day, I passed right by one in my neighbor’s trash. Needless to say, once I realized what I saw, I did a U-turn and snapped it right up. It was not the prettiest thing, but it had potential.

Let’s see how I made it pretty!

The paint was chipping and the inserts for the shelves were warped but it was intact and still worked. Bonus for me that someone threw it out!

After cleaning it, I took steel wool and knocked off all the loose paint.

I decided to spray paint it with Rust-Oleum flat black paint and primer.

The matte finish will hide any imperfections.

After spraying the top, I flipped it over and did the bottom. It took two coats for full coverage.

I replaced the shelves with 17.9″ diameter round wooded discs from Michaels.

I was really excited to use this Iron Orchid Design transfer Astoria in black and white on the tops of the wooden discs. The flowers seemed perfect for an outdoor cart!

Using the tool that comes with the transfer, you rub over until it releases to the surface.

When it turns dull like on the right you know it let go.

The transfer comes in sections. After one part is applied, you match up the next. The grid pattern makes it easy to line up.

I was rubbing for an hour and my hand started to hurt. Ouch!

My husband gave me his winter gloves and they worked like a charm!

Once the transfers were on, I decided I only wanted the flowers and no words, so I painted over them with white paint.

It took four thin layers of paint, but you can’t even tell they were there.

The finished piece!

Drinks anyone?

Before and After!

Looking forward to using it this summer!

Part Two: Decoupage Cabinet Before And After!

Decoupaging was the easy part of this makeover. The hard part started when I began to add chalk paint to the decoupage, and it started to bubble up. It was not happening to the decoupage on the wood just on the glass. The good news was after the paint dried the bubbling disappeared. But the added dry time made the process much longer than expected. But the results were worth it.

The next time I attempt to add decoupage to glass, I will spray shellac first to create a barrier between the glass and the decoupage.

First a recap before the reveal:

This is the cabinet I started with. In addition to a primer, next time I will also spray with shellac before decoupaging.

Applying decoupage.

Starting to extend the artwork to cover the entire front of cabinet.

The finished piece! I loved working on this piece. It enabled me to experiment with blending colors but most of all it gave me the freedom to let go.

I was working up to the last minute so there is a little bubbling near the top but once it fully dries it will disappear.

If you enjoyed this blog, please like it!

Part One: Decoupage Over Glass? Yes, You Can!

Last week I worked on an old metal filing cabinet for my office. Next in my plan is a cabinet to hold all my chalk paint. Let’s just say I am not the neatest painter, and it is better for the cans to be behind closed doors. I have a cabinet, but it has glass doors which defeated the purpose of hiding my mess. I researched a little bit and found out you can decoupage over glass however I had not done it. I was a little nervous about it. I pictured myself using a razor blade to get the paper off, but I did not want to purchase another cabinet, so I went ahead with it.

Let’s do this!

This is the cabinet I was talking about. It is great, but you would be able to see everything inside.

The first step was painting the front including the glass with Zinsser primer. It created an even background for behind the decoupage paper.

I chose Karen’s Technicolor Bouquet from Mint By Michelle decoupage paper. It is so colorful. Just perfect to store all my paint.

To attach the decoupage paper, I used Roman wallpaper adhesive. There are other products you can use but this has always worked for me.

I ripped the edges all around the paper. This will give it more of a hand painted look once it is placed on the glass.

I took my time starting at the top and moved down. I added paste on the cabinet then laid the decoupage paper on top and smoothed it out with a large chip brush.

You are supposed to wait until the paper is dry before cutting. I know this but I did it anyway and this is what happened. No worries. I purchased a smaller version of Karen’s Technicolor Bouquet decoupage paper that I can use along with paint to fix the tears.

I took several cuts from the smaller version of Karen’s Technicolor Bouquet.

Then I matched them up and decoupaged them on the cabinet.

Using my acrylic paints, I blended them together.

The process took quite a while.

The results were worth it. You cannot tell where it was torn at all.

I gathered all my tools to do the next part. Using Annie Sloan Giverny, Antibes, and English Yellow chalk paint, several Craft Smart acrylic paints, the rest of the smaller decoupage paper and various brushes all to extend the decoupage design further onto the cabinet.

I started by giving the vase a bottom.

I started working with my paints to match the colors in the decoupage paper. I used a paint brush and ragging technique to blend.

Adding details like flowers as I went.

I knew I needed to keep going so I chose a color and went for it!

I took Annie Sloan Giverny chalk paint and water and started painting.

I wanted it to look like flowers had fallen from the bouquet, so I used the rest of the smaller decoupage paper to achieve this.

Cutting out the flowers and placing them along the bottom of the vase.

I used tape until I knew exactly where I wanted them. Then decoupaged them on.

I am very pleased with the progress so far. I am pushing myself out of my comfort zone and I like it.

If you enjoyed the post, please like it. Make sure to check back next week to see the before and after reveal!

Metal Filing Cabinet Transformation!

I am in desperate need of a filing system. I have papers that are currently being stored in a plastic bag (no judging please). It is annoying when I am trying to find something, and it takes twice as long as it would have if it was neatly filed away.

I decided it was time to get a filing cabinet and get organized! I started looking around and was finding ones that I liked but were too pricey which left me with metal filing cabinets. I really do not like metal filing cabinets. They are tinny sounding and usually come in either beige, gray or black. The decision was finally made when I found a metal filing cabinet in decent shape at Good Will for $2. My thought was for $2 I could try to make it a little more appealing and if it didn’t work it was only $2.

Let’s check it out!

Here are some of my papers. The rest are in my plastic bag.

The cabinet was of course beige, but the drawers were intact and worked well.

I forgot to tell you it was really a mess. Probably why it was $2.

There were also dinosaur stickers on both drawers that needed to be removed.

To combat the rust, some kind of dark substance, and of course the stickers that had to be removed, I pulled out the big three, Goo Gone, Soft Scrub with bleach and Rust Stain Magic and got down to business.

The stickers were pretty easy to remove. I put Goo Gone on top of each sticker and let it sit while I worked on something else.

When I came back I used a scraper to get them off.

I tackled the rust stains next. It took a little elbow grease, but they came off.

The black substance came off with Soft Scrub and more elbow grease.

Nice and clean!

One thing I didn’t like were the handles. They were too industrial looking.

I decided to try filling them with Bondo. I glued a piece of wood inside the handle so I would not have to use so much Bondo.

Bondo is amazing. It worked like a charm. You could not even tell that the handle had been there.

While I was at it, I removed the lock, placed a piece of cardboard on the back and then filled it with Bondo.

To make it look less like a metal cabinet I asked my husband to cut some trim to put on the drawers.

I used Liquid Nails to put the trim on.

It was easy to work with.

Love the way it looks!

I put a little spackle in the corners and let it dry overnight.

I put on one coat of Zinsser Primer.

I used Annie Sloan Aubusson Blue Chalk Paint on the cabinet.

I use the tops of containers to roll my paint’ It works just as well has the ones in the store and washes up easily

First coat.

It took three coats to get full coverage

I went through my box of cabinet doorknobs and found these. Also dressed it up with some very nice (but inexpensive) aluminum feet I found on Amazon.

So happy with the results! Can’t wait to organize all my files!

Secretary Desk Part Two: The Reveal!

After all the repairs I had to do last week on the secretary desk, I thought this week would be a breeze. Not so much! I took a video of myself painting the desk with Annie Sloan Oxford Blue paint and dry brushing with Athenian Black, Napoleonic Blue, and French linen. Unfortunately, I could not get the video to load. I also did not take pictures so there is no footage of me painting. Sorry!

I did capture the rest of the process so let’s get to it!

Where it started.

While painting the desk I decided to update the desk by removing the cubbies. I felt most people wouldn’t use them and it gave it much more space to work.

See what I mean about space!

I wanted to brighten up the inside so I decoupaged using Blue Flight by Decoupage Queen.

Trying to work in that small space was difficult. I had to pull the paper up and realign it a few times.

I just took my time and it worked itself out.

Once the paper was dry, I used a sanding brick to remove the excess and give it a clean line.

The paper is perfect with the colors in the desk.

In this picture you can see how I dry-brushed using Annie Sloan Athenian Black, French Linen and Napoleonic Blue to give it depth.

The big reveal! I love it!

I promise to work on being able to upload videos. It would be fun to share what I am doing as I’m doing it!

Remember to like my blog and share it with friends if you enjoyed it!

How To Do Dry-Brushing On A Secretary Desk Part One!

The first time I saw this piece I was smitten. The lines, the medallion and scroll work were a perfect candidate for dry brushing a technique I have been wanting to try. I know my wood lover friends think it is beautiful as is, but there was too much damage (which you will see in a minute) to be saved.

Like in past projects, there was a lot more prep work than I expected and also like the other projects, I did question why I had purchased it. In the end like many of my projects I am glad I did!

Let’s see what happened…

Look at that medallion definitely drool worthy.

I am not a fan of this piece of molding on top, so I removed it.

It had been glued as well as nailed in, so it took some work to get it off.

I had to use pliers for the stubborn nails.

Next was cleaning which is twofold. You clean but also check the piece closely for anything that may need a tweak.

This was the third rag, yuck!

I didn’t like the hardware that was on the piece, so I removed it. In order to put on the single knob that I want, I needed to fill the holes first.

I have seen this product used by other furniture refinishers on You Tube and the results were great. So, I decided to give it a try.

The directions were easy to follow. Scoop out puddy, add hardener, stir and apply. The fumes were very strong. Definitely use it in a well-ventilated area.

When I was cleaning the desk, I noticed that some of the veneer was lifting off. I used a putty knife to pull up the loose veneer then took it off. Once it was off, I filled it in with Bondo.

I also used the Bondo to fix two of the edges on the drop door that were chipped.

Everything sanded and ready to paint!

There were so many things I had to repair on this piece I did not have enough time to finish it this week. Make sure to look for part two next week I can’t wait to share!