Blog Posts by Country Living

  • Painting Hardwood Floors



    QUESTION: Where can I get advice on painting my hardwood floors? Where do I find designs or large stencils for this job? -- F.S. (via e-mail)


    ANSWER: I personally love the look of painted and stenciled wood floors. The first source of ideas that comes to mind is Country Living's Country Paint Techniques (Hearst Books), a volume filled with methods for making striped, checked, and stenciled floors, as well as easy paint techniques. For more detailed how-to information, pick up The Home Depot's Decorative Painting 1-2-3. The chapter on painting wood floors provides a checklist of all the items and tools you'll need, along with insider tips, photographs, and instructions from start to finish. For authentic period designs, consider MB Historic Decor's Floor Stencils of New England (mbhistoricdecor.com) or the Stencil Library (stencil-library.com).


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  • Halloween Style

    Display Halloween-worthy pieces pretty enough to keep long after the holiday ends. Check out some of our editors' favorite picks for the spooky season below.

    Edison Chandelier, $299; potterybarn.com
    Suitable for a dining room, this web of lights casts a soft glow thanks to vintage-inspired oversize bulbs.



    Paula Deen Signature Enamel on Steel Teakettle in Orange, $40; potsandpans.com

    This two-quart speckled porcelain enamel teakettle is modeled after vintage versions.

    WIN IT!
    Enter to win a teakettle from Paula Deen in Orange at countryliving.com/sweeps



    Slatin & Co. Traditional Bisque Candle in Caramel Pumpkin,$16.50; bathandbodyworks.com
    Infuse your home with the scent of pumpkin pie all autumn long.



    Mini Pumpkin Wreath, 16"D, $89; smithandhawken.com
    Place this painted faux-pumpkin wreath on a table for a ready-made autumn centerpiece.


    To see more Halloween decorations, keep reading Halloween Style.


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  • 60 Ideas to Improve Your Kitchen

    From stoves to shelving, we've compiled the 60 best tips and ideas for making your kitchen the most inviting room in the home. Here are a few of our favorites.



    To see the rest of our kitchen decorating tips, keep reading The Ultimate Guide to Kitchens.




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    DIY Dream Kitchen


    A New Kitchen Gets an Old Look


    Build an Eco-Friendly Modular Home


    Thrifty Bathroom Redo


    Limited Time Offer - Order Country Living & Save up to 81%



    Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.

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  • Mom's Best Cake Recipes

    It's something you can remember for as long as you can remember. First, she let you lick the spoon or scrape the bowl. Then, when you were old enough to reach the counter, she had you add the eggs, carefully, one at a time. Finally, you got to mix the batter, while she watched and encouraged you. She might have started teaching you right there. And later, much later, you came to realize Mom had taught you not just how to follow a recipe, but self-confidence, satisfaction in a job well done, and the pleasure of expressing love without words. As for the cake, well, it was more than a cake. It was a family tradition that renewed itself every time it was baked--for birthdays, graduations, and just to remind you Mom was thinking of you when you came home.



    It is these memories that sparked us at Country Living to ask our readers to share their favorite family recipes for "Mom's Best Cake Contest." The results astonished us. Five months and 904 recipes later (from all the 50 states!), after

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  • The Art of Tartan


    There are few patterns that spread cheer quite like tartan plaid, the classic fabric distinguished by intersecting, multicolored stripes. But not all plaids are tartans: Only those registered with the Scottish Tartans Authority tartansauthority.com are the real McCoy.



    Unpedigreed plaids are no less decorative than their official counterparts though. Besides, even if your clan hasn't got a tartan, it's easy to get one; simply consult Peter Wilson of North Carolina's The Scottish Weaver (thescottishweaver.com, who designs plaids for individuals and corporations, then makes them official with the Tartans Authority (which, for a fee, will add your tartan to its registry).



    Official or not, tartan dresses up or down for a look that's highbrow one moment, casual the next. And when it comes to decorating with the print, more is definitely, well, more! So go ahead and pile it on: its comfortingly familiar grid pattern unifies disparate palettes and invites a mix-and-mismatch approach.



    To

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  • Make Cute Custom Candles

    Make one-of-a-kind candles that warmly welcome friends and family into your home. Here, new twists on an old flame.



    Teacups offer elegant vessels for candles. Repurpose china from old place settings, mixing and matching pieces. Or single out a favorite new find.





    To make candles, you'll need wax, wicks, putty, a pencil, and a candy thermometer, all of which can be found at a craft store such as Michaels. Wax is sold in blocks, sheets, and shavings, to be melted on a stove or in a microwave.




    Wrap one end of the wick around a pencil. Set pencil on egg cup, suspending the wick. With putty, secure wick's metal clip to bottom of cup. In a double boiler, melt wax according to package directions; use a candy thermometer to gauge temperature. Pour wax in cup; allow to fully cool. Trim wick to 1/4 inch.




    Scour your pantry, flea markets, and antiques shops for items that would make containers for candles -- teacups, sugar bowls, jelly jars, or sake cups. Choose pieces solid enough to withstand

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  • Delectable Donut Icing



    It's hard to imagine a more irresistible snack than a donut. But we did! Chocolate cake donuts, cider donuts, and old-fashioned style, from a bakery or supermarket, are sturdy enough to withstand spreads and toppings. Try cream-cheese icing, or whip together peanut butter and honey. Wondering if day-olds are okay? Absolutely! Heat them in a toaster oven to bring out their cake-like flavor.

    Cream-Cheese Pumpkin Icing: Beat 4 ounces cream cheese, 2 tablespoons each softened butter and pumpkin puree, with 2 cups confectioners' sugar, 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla until light and creamy. Keep chilled until ready to use. Makes 1 3/4 cups.


    Get our best donut recipes:
    Light & Fluffy Donuts
    Apple Cider Donuts
    Cappuccino Donuts
    Filled Donuts
    More...


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    Limited Time Offer - Order Country Living & Save up to 81%


    Reprinted with permission of Hearst

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  • Hostess Gift Ideas: Personalized Apron

    Wendell T. WebberWendell T. Webber

    For a hostess who loves to cook, say thank you with an apron monogrammed with iron-on transfer letters. In keeping with the culinary theme, include some wooden kitchen utensils and a blank recipe book. You can personalize the book's cover with a sticker printed with a customized stamp, like this one from finestationery.com.

    TIPS & TOOLS
    You will need a computer, ink-jet color printer, iron-on transfer paper (available at craft or computer stores), and an iron for this project. Be sure to turn the iron's steam function off, or you risk ruining the transfer.

    HOW-TO
    1. Using a word processing program, type the initials you wish to monogram in the font and color of your choice. Consider the color of the apron, and choose either a contrasting or tonal hue for the monogram.

    2. Flip the letters on your computer, then print onto transfer paper.

    3. Trim excess paper closely, leaving the letters connected.

    4. Position letters on the apron and iron according to the included instructions.

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  • Create Your Dream Bathroom



    Turn your bathroom from functional space into soothing sanctuary with the latest remodeling options and design trends.



    If you only have time--and money--for a simple spruce-up, consider the following:


    Resurface your bathtub: For a tub that is in otherwise good condition, but has a worn or badly stained finish, try resurfacing it rather than replacing it. The one- to two-day process involves cleaning and prepping the surface, followed by the application of a coating to restore the color and shine.


    Regrout or retile your walls: If your tile is fine but the grout is discolored or damaged, regrout the area. Keep in mind that if tile is bulging or leaking, there may be more serious problems underneath. In this case, consult a contractor. You may need to replace the tile.


    Install an acrylic liner: Acrylic liners that fit over your existing tub are another option. Your old bathtub is first measured to ensure a perfect fit and a new molded acrylic liner is made and then

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  • How to Create Decorative Paper Vases

    Ellen SilvermanEllen Silverman

    Near a favorite reading chair, present a page-turning vignette. Paint a silhouette on a backdrop of book pages. And cut vase shapes to give text three dimensions. Don't be fooled. This craft, which requires only basic tools, is quick and easy.


    Ellen SilvermanEllen Silverman

    STEP 1
    On a sheet of card stock or thin cardboard, create a template by drawing the profile of half a vase.


    Ellen SilvermanEllen Silverman

    STEP 2

    With sharp scissors, cut out the template carefully, keeping the edges clean.


    Ellen SilvermanEllen Silverman

    STEP 3

    Insert the template in an old book open to the first page. Be sure the flat side of the template is snug against the binding. With a sharp craft knife cut along the template, gradually slicing through all the pages of the book.


    Ellen SilvermanEllen Silverman

    STEP 4
    Cut off the book's covers and remove the template. Then open the book and fold it backward, before gluing the back pages together with a glue gun.


    For more paper craft ideas, read Letter-Perfect Craft Projects.

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