Christmas Stamps

The Southern Mermaid did not send Christmas cards this year. We wanted to, we meant to, we should have, but it didn’t happen. Every year, I think cards are a waste until ours start piling up in the mailbox. And just like that, I’m in the Christmas spirit. I think they’re magic.

We hang our cards in the window from clothespins immediately, but we save the letters to read together in the evening. My favorite this year came from my Grandma. Our other friends and family sent pictures and updates about children, jobs, illnesses, and life, in general. My grandma sent me a photocopy of the history of the Christmas stamp, which is apparently celebrating its 49th birthday this year. Her card was, ironically, mailed in an envelope without a Christmas stamp.

If you’d like to check out festive stamps from around the world this holiday season, The Inspiration Room has compiled quite a gallery. What was your favorite Christmas card this year?





Sharing Our Bounty

The Southern Mermaid loves sharing our bounty, however plentiful or scarce, and for that reason, we love Sharing Our Bounty, a local outreach dedicated to meeting the needs of families in hardship in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Last Saturday, helper elves delivered gifts to every member of the 100+ families helped by Sharing Our Bounty this past year. We are so blessed to have an opportunity to partner with them in this mission by giving a percentage of our income for their work. Please check out their website or Facebook page to see if there is a way you can be involved, too.

Gifts from Christmas Outreach 2010

Sharing Our Bounty targets families in Wilmington, North Carolina. If you aren’t local, please look around for similar organizations in your area. Giving is a gift that doesn’t go out of style.

MonDIY: Wood Pallet Coat Rack

Here at The Southern Mermaid, we’re continuing to fight the Monday blues with our MonDIY features. We’ve been into wood pallets for a while. They’re an accessible, cheap source of wood for custom upcycled pieces, and for this DIY, the pallets themselves lend the form for the project.

We found a great tutorial for this on Shelterness…consequently, a great source for all kinds of DIYs. With the Christmas season upon us, I’ve been looking around my own home and adding paint and lights to all kinds of thing for cheap, quick holiday makeovers. This would be an easy one. Classic red and green, metallics, or wintery blues. I personally like the idea of stripes or an exercise in ombre.

How about this doormat take take on the pallet? Use deck or floor paint instead of interior and you’re good to go.

Pallets aren’t hard to come by, but some are better (and much safer) than others. A concerned reader brought some of the potential dangers of working with pallets to my attention. We think that these projects are probably okay, if you are careful in selecting your pallets. Donna at Funky Junk Interiors has a really helpful list of tips for choosing and working with pallets. Make sure to check it out before you go on the prowl. Safety first!

What will you do with your pallet?

I want it all…

Want vintage Christmas? Remember Christmas catalogues? I remember getting the JCPenny Christmas catalogue as a child. When my granddad asked what I wanted, my response, “I want it all!”

Not much has changed. Especially when I see photos like this from the cover of the latest House Beautiful

I want it all! Well done Jill Brinson, Creative Director for Ballard Design! Absolutely perfect blend. Thanks for welcoming us all into your home this Christmas!

What’s your favorite part of the room?

MonDIY: Repurposed Ruler Sunburst Mirror

Happy MonDIY morning! Two weeks til Christmas, and we’ve been decorating for the festivities. Looking around I’ve seen multiple incorporations of sunburst mirrors, and I’ve been a little (no, a lot) envious. For example, in the cottage of Ballard Design’s Creative Director:

Then I found Better Homes and Garden’s super easy DIY version with repurposed rulers. I’ve seen something similar with old tobacco sticks, too. Use your material of choice, but don’t let the sun go down on this sweet idea.

How will you incorporate your new mirror in your holiday designs?

Lots of vintage love, The Southern Mermaid

MonDIY: Upcycled Ladder Chandelier

Welcome to MonDIY from The Southern Mermaid. I started this last week when I failed to complete the living/dining area redesign on schedule. The room is complete…minus a few finishing touches! All pictures to come later this week.

In the meantime, anyone up for another DIY? How about an upcycled ladder chandelier? Like the one in our brand new dining area.

I found the ladder lying around an old barn at an estate sale about a year ago. Surprise? I was the only one who wanted it. Here’s how it went from ladder to lighting.

You’ll need:

Your ladder (and saw if it needs trimming), sisal rope, large cup hooks, paper grocery bag, yardstick, push pin, pencil, scissors, a Sharpie, level

Step 1: Cutting the ladder

We measured and cut the ladder into 4 sections, each about 4 feet long using a reciprocating saw. We only needed one section for our chandelier. Then we beveled the edges of the new end so that it didn’t look like we had just hacked it. I also took a little semi-transparent gray stain from Olympia and stained the new wood that was exposed. This stain does a good job mimicking barn wood color (in small patches, at least).

Step 2: Finding the center

You need to know where you want your chandelier to be centered. This is going to be crucial, and you’ll be able to tell if it’s off. So, use your tape measure carefully. Measure to your center point and put a light mark on the ceiling at this point.

Step 2: Marking corners

I’m sure there are lots of ways to skin this cat, but we did it this way. I used the paper grocery bag to cut a template of the rectangle where the hooks would go into the ceiling. I knew that the ladder would swing too much if the rope hung straight down, so we wanted to get the ropes hanging at an angle. I laid the paper bag on the ladder and used a pencil to mark the outside points on the two end rungs. Since I wanted the ropes at an angle, I needed the rectangle for the hooks to be slightly bigger. So, I went two inches out and two inches back from each point, making the rectangle four inches wider than the actual ladder and four inches longer than the end rungs. I connected the corner points using the yard stick and cut out the rectangle. This sounds way more complicated than it is. Sorry I forgot to take pictures.

Now, I folded the paper in half both ways. When you unfold it, the point where the folded lines cross is the center. I smoothed it out really well and put a push pin sticking up through the center point. Then I shood on a step stool and inserted the push pin into the center point marked on the ceiling. This attaches your rectangle to the ceiling with center on center. Then, I taped the rectangle up to the ceiling on all sides. So now, the four points of your paper rectangle should be the four points where you want your hooks. Just make sure you have the rectangle turned the way you want your ladder to go. We wanted ours to run parallel to the wall behind it.

Screw your cup hooks into the ceiling at the corners of the rectangle. Depending on the weight of your ladder, you may need to use anchors.

Step 4: Attaching the rope

Now, you need to know how much drop you want for your chandelier. We wanted it to hang 18″ below the ceiling. For an 18″ drop, I cut four 60″ pieces of sisal rope. So, I would say, you’ll be fine if you cut about 3 times your intended drop length. I tied all four pieces of rope onto the ladder first, wrapping the rope around the rung several times before knotting it.

To get your drop right, you will need each rope segment to be a little longer than your intended drop length. It’s hanging at an angle. Remember geometry…right triangles? Well the rope is actually forming a hypotenuse…the longest side of the triangle. So, for an 18″ drop, we went for 19″ of rope. Not that big of a deal, unless you need your drop to be perfect.

Using the yardstick, I measured 19″ from the top of the ladder rung and marked a line on the sisal rope with a sharpie. Repeat this for all four pieces of rope. Then I made a double knot in the rope, so that the bottom of the knot hit just at the sharpie line drawn on the rope. If all the knots are the same distance from the ladder, then the ladder should hang level.

Step 5: Hanging the ladder

This is where it helps to have two people. My husband, Noah, held the ladder, while I slipped the knots over the ceiling hooks. He released slowly, just in case the hooks weren’t secure enough to hold. They were!! We used the level to adjust the knots. You can reposition the knots on the hooks if you’re a little off. I think we only had to retie one. It happens…

Step 6: Let there be light

We had some lanterns left over from our wedding. They still need a paint job, but they’re up for now. I held them where I wanted them. Slightly staggered on the rungs and at varying heights. Noah tied them onto the rungs with twine. He wrapped the twine a few times, too, to prevent sliding. You’ll want to make sure that you distribute the weight fairly proportionally across the ladder.

I was nervous and put sofa cushions on my table for the first 24 hours, just in case we had a crash. Better safe than sorry with our freshly refinished antique table.

Hopefully before the final pictures, I’ll add a coat of paint to the lantern, put in some candles, and tuck some rosemary cuttings inside them for a fresh effect.

What do you think, is it better than before?


We think so! Can’t wait to show you the rest of our redesign! Come on back now, y’all!


Redesign is incomplete! So sorry. Believe me, I am as sad as you are. Our living/dining area is coming together, but it will probably be Friday before we’re ready for a reveal. In the meantime, how about a little DIY??

Have y’all used the vaseline trick? It creates a more dramatic distressed look and allows you to controlled the amount of peeling paint, even when you’re using latex. It’s definitely a little magic in the sleeve of the DIYer. Check out the lovely Deep Blue Bachelor’s Chest on The Southern Mermaid website, and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Step 1: Prep

Sand and prime as normal to prep wood. Remember if you’re going to distress with sandpaper or steel wool that whatever color you put on as the base coat will eventually come to light.

Step 2: Base Coat

Apply your highlight/lowlight layer. This is the layer that will come through. For the Deep Blue Chest it is black. For my living room bookcases, it is a chocolate.

Step 3: Vaseline

Smear vaseline randomly in corners, along edges, in streaks or concentrated areas. Use a fairly thick layer. Anywhere you put vaseline, your highlight/lowlight layer is going to come through in your finished product.

Step 4: Paint

Apply your main paint color, one or two coats, depending on the types of paints and colors you are using. For the bookcases, I chose a creamy sand color of my own creation.

Even before finishing, you will probably spot the vaseline where you see the brown peeking through the main color.

Step 5: Finish

Rub off vaseline (and coats of main paint) with a damp rag. Use one you don’t mind throwing away. Where you go from here depends on the look you want to achieve. For the Deep Blue Chest, I used steel wool and was pretty severe in some spots. For the bookcases, I will be a little less intense. Probably just a little light sanding. Then, I always topcoat. If you don’t mind some yellowing, I recommend polyurethane. If you’re main color is white, and you’re not going for a super-aged look, then use lacquer and apply in thin coats.

Let us know if you give it a try!

I’m saving the final pictures of the bookcases for the unveiling in Friday’s post. Until then, much vintage love from The Southern Mermaid!

Happy Thanksgiving

Here at The Southern Mermaid, we value moments to stop and give thanks. This Thanksgiving we are so grateful for people and businesses that are committed to charity. Businesses like Aqua Fedora in downtown Wilmington.

Aqua Fedora is sponsoring a charity fashion show next Thursday, December 1 to benefit LUNGevity Foundation, an organization for lung cancer research.

Come enjoy goody bags, hors d’oeuvres from The Balcony, a silent auction, delicious cocktails, and great style. Get your tickets at We’ll be there!

And a happy happy Thanksgiving from The Southern Mermaid!


In the throes of a vintage redesign

It’s a perfect day to be working in Wilmington. Temp is perfect, and the sky is just cloudy enough to create a lovely light. Last week, I sewed. This week, I paint.

So sad I can’t get to the BHG issue that has the real inspiration for our redesign. I’m going for Scandinavian comfort, with a few more pops of color. Cool, soothing tones. Classic meets rustic, with enough modern elements to keep it interesting.

Love this! Here the curtains are burlap. I went for a soft creamy fabric and added fringed burlap as trim. They’re hung from the ceiling and puddle. Can’t wait for you to see them. We’re also installing a barnwood chandelier over the dining table to make that a focal point in the room.

Just like in our room, the rug grounds the space, and there are other classic pieces, like the lamps. The funk comes from the art. In our living room, we’re adding a couple mid-century cast iron chairs reupholstered in a rich orange velvet and stretching orange and gold animal print over a very large frame for a cheap art alternative.

Time to get to work! What room in your home could use a redesign?


Vintage blues: Redesign long overdue

In the busyness of starting a business, there are a few areas that have been neglected far too long. With the holiday season fast approaching, what better time to tackle the most noticeably undone room in my home? Before the Christmas tree comes, I have a few other plans.

So, I’m not a photographer. You don’t have to play “I Spy” to determine what’s wrong with this picture. When I started The Southern Mermaid, we converted our dining room into a fabric room. So, the living area is now doing double duty. In the meantime, we’ve inherited an antique French farmtable, which you see in the picture. The pieces themselves aren’t bad…for the most part. Some, like the table are actually quite lovely, but they are horribly in need of redesign. Here are some reasons, I know it’s going to be okay.

A big window with lots of light

A rug with plenty of color and pattern

A cool built-in

Chairs that have possibility

Fun accessories, like this coffee sack pillow I made for my husband last Christmas

So, I need new drapes, comfy chairs, a parson’s bench for the table, an overhaul of wall space, and everything in the room needs to be painted. So what? Also, I’d like to order up a little less cottage and a little more funk. No problem. Check back the Monday after Thanksgiving for some “after” shots! Getting excited for my own vintage makeover!!