Decorate with Crafts

A Real Picnic

Color your world with our stylists' hints for displaying collectibles and garden-themed decor.

A Real Picnic

Peer pressure can sometimes be a good thing -- at least when it comes to collecting. While shopping in an antiques mall several years ago, Elgin, Illinois, collector Susan Paneitz was convinced by a good friend, Suzette, to buy not one but two retro picnic baskets. "She said, 'You really need to buy these two baskets,' " Susan recalls. "And now we have 60!" From plaid to floral to faux-basketweave, the tins herald the vibrant vintage style found inside the home Susan shares with her husband, Phil, in an adult community. "Because all the houses in our neighborhood look alike, people are surprised when they come in that our house is so colorful," she says.

To make the most of the space in their 1,500-square-foot ranch, Susan and Phil now use all those cute picnic baskets to store their Christmas decor. Function aside, the tins look quite fashionable displayed on a series of separate pre-made shelves and cabinets painted the same green hue and arranged against a wall of the great room. "We matched the color to an old chair so it was an authentic vintage color," Susan notes. "We painted them and added trim to make them look like a built-in."

With such charming elements to work with, Country Sampler stylists Nancy Borsodi, Debbie Plantery and Candy Garcia were surrounded by inspiration when Susan invited them to give her living spaces a spring makeover. "It's impossible not to be happy in Susan and Phil's home," Nancy says. Read on for 20 bright ideas for infusing your rooms with similar springtime cheer.

A Real Picnic

In Living Color
1. Letter go. "Painted signs are a classic country decorating element, but sometimes it's fun to do something different," Candy says. "I love these letters that spell out 'spring' because you can display them in so many different ways."
2. Clay it on the line. With the bird-themed "I" at center, the stylists opted to give each of the other letters its own presentation by nestling it in a terra-cotta pot filled with moss. Various size pots and raffia-wrapped jars sporting orange ranunculus keep the scene interesting.
3. Think outside the basket. Enhance the space underneath your arrangement with a texture-rich, two-toned textile such as this white-and-yellow crocheted doily that calls to mind a field of daisies.
4. Table the discussion. "Spring is all about refreshing your look," Debbie says. "Try moving around your furniture so you can use a unique table, such as this enamel-top vintage one, to add more character to a grouping." You could also swap out drawer knobs or pulls for a new look.

Tin-Side Job
5. Spread far and wide. Make the most of a vivid collection by spreading out same-hue pieces to draw the eye around. Here, Susan arranged her red, yellow, blue and green picnic baskets on different shelves for maximum impact.
6. Build up to it. "Susan's sense of design is on point," Debbie says. "She smartly balances out the tall shelves with a salvaged ladder holding vintage tablecloths nearby." Strands of oversize bulbs give the vignette extra whimsy.
6. Be colorful. Debbie brought out the great room's palette with tabletop accessories, including dishes in a plate holder and tulips in ribbon-wrapped jars nestled in a utensil tote.
7. Take it literally. Rest a small clay pot in a metal spring reinvented as an innovative booster.
8. Berry the lead. Draw attention to a bowl display—Susan's croquet balls perfectly suit her dining area's cheery feel—by resting it inside a berry wreath dotted with ladybug accents.

Sofa, So Good
9. Have a hearth. Add architectural character to a hearth-less room with a distressed-finish mantel.
10. Sign me up. Lend more interest to a fireplace surround with a painted sign hung below the mantel. "Or, install hooks so you can display accents that dangle into the opening," Nancy suggests.
11. Pay (tu)lip service. Nancy brought in sweet tulip-inspired soft goods, taking a cue from both the season and Susan's cherished leaded-glass piece, which came from her grandmother's neighbor's house. Over the mantel, a quilted block hangs above its real-life counterparts, and a matching wall hanging and pillow brighten up the denim sofa.
12. Spot the difference. In addition to her vibrant picnic baskets, Susan loves to collect galvanized watering cans. Nancy draws attention to the not-so-bright vessels with flowers and a strategically placed cardinal figure.
13. Think small. Repeat your palette on a smaller scale via a stack of color-coordinating books on a side table.

Hutch a Plan
14. Make a match. Whether by luck or by refinishing, match up separate furniture pieces to create a larger one. Thanks to the similar finish, you'd never know that the top and bottom of this "Hoosier" came from completely different sources.
15. Flock together. As seen elsewhere, birds play a big role in adding springy charm to this area of the sitting room—plus, they honor the penny rug Susan made years ago and stitched with her and Phil's initials and wedding date.
16. Play games. A wood mosaic barn quilt, typically hung on the wall, finds a new purpose as a stand-in for a game board with bird figures acting as game pieces.
17. Hang on each word. "Don't forget that cabinet knobs are wonderful decorating real estate," Candy advises. To dress up the Paneitzes' makeshift Hoosier, she placed a painted sign on an upper knob and a vintage flour sack on a lower one. Stuffing the sack with a few crumpled newspaper pages helps the graphics stand out.
18. Care about labels. Complement retro food tins with primitive labels on jars and other containers that hark back to an even earlier era.
19. Lantern things around. Rest a jar of cut chamomile inside a weathered lantern and set it on top of a booster to turn a chair into the center of attention -- one of Susan's many picnic baskets is the perfect perch in this display.

For more information, visit our Craft Fair online.

"Spring" letters, DMZ Designs

Sunflower plate and utensil holders, DNL Woodworks
Grapevine berry wreath with ladybugs, DMZ Designs

Tulip quilt block, throw pillow and wall hanging, Choices Quilts
Feed & Seed Co. sign, Hare Hollow, see ad page 70

Reclaimed wood and metal lantern, Olde Farm Creek
1874 Buttery, Sweet Cream, Whale Oil and Collard Greens prim labels, Blue Cupboard Primitives, LLC
Dry Goods sign, Hare Hollow
Wood mosaic barn quilt, Red Bud Primitives

Written by Elizabeth Preston Morrissey
Photographed by Maurice Victoria
Styled by Nancy Borsodi, Debbie Plantery & Candy Garcia