Inspiration Nation

When it comes to home improvement projects, I am a dedicated do-it-yourselfer. With the help of my dear husband, I’ve tackled everything from installing bathroom tile to refinishing hardwood floors. But when I say I can do it, I am compelled by journalistic integrity to point out that just because one can do something doesn’t mean one should. As some very, uh, (how can I put this delicately?) irregular grout lines attest… sometimes things are best left to the professionals.

Undaunted by the great grout fiasco of 2008 (or the paint-flake race of 2010, or the “hammer solution of doom” from 2011, etc., etc.), whenever I set my sights on a new undertaking, I usually cruise the information superhighway to figure out how such-and-such is done, and then try to replicate the results in my home while balancing my laptop on my knees. Now that I think about it, this position may account for some of my more interesting DIY results.

I should note that I am a bit of a technophobe. For example, I just got a smart phone, and it’s so new I haven’t even been billed for the first month yet – so I am probably the last person you would guess to have a voracious blog consumption habit. It helped (enabled) me when I finally figured out how to use RSS feeds (only 10 years behind the rest of America) and made the (misguided) choice to use Google’s iGoogle homepage to corral all my favorites. Now the internet spoon-feeds me tidbits of things I am actually interested in every time I log on. Of course, I recently found out they are discontinuing iGoogle in 2013, so I will have to figure out an alternative. Grrrr. This reminds me of my parents’ endorsement of Beta tapes as the clear winner in the ’80s VCR format debate. I am confident we (both me and my mom) will come down on the right side of history when our great-great-grandkids look back at our choices.

But I digress – hey, that’s kind of like a blog. Stream-of-consciousness writing! (I will restrain my use of emoticons for propriety’s sake). My favorite go-to blogs are filled with tips and tricks and tutorials and honestly, they whet my appetite for more projects. Bloggers show me things to craft/decoupage/spackle/spray paint that I never would have thought about. Some blogs I follow because they have gorgeous photos and inspiration rooms that I use to feed my fledgling Pinterest appetite, and others I peruse for their great sense of design and color. (Gosh, I hope that admission wasn’t the death-knell of Pinterest. R.I.P. iGoogle.)

Without further ado, I bring my personal choices for the best blogs around in the home and garden genre, and hope you will enjoy this trip through the blogosphere.
P.S. Just in case you have been lost this whole time and wondering what I am babbling about (and if so, hey, way to stick with it!), blog is a shortened form of “web-log”, and is basically an online journal with photos, stories and cross-links to other similar or favorite blogs for even more inspiration.

Who can resist The Grumpy Gardener? If you read Steve Bender’s column in Southern Living, be sure to follow his blog for the latest in practical gardening wisdom served with a side of Southern sarcasm. Personal favorite: Annual Crepe Murder contest. I was trolling the metro for entries, and now that I have my fancy-schmancy smart phone, I am prepared to dominate next year’s competition.

This may have been where I learned you can paint laminate furniture with the right kind of primer (um, the kind that you need to wear a respirator with – those fumes are STRONG). Today I saw a build-it-yourself cross-leg bench that I am now dreaming about. These kinds of inspirations are what my husband finds annoying about my blog addiction – they nearly always result in some kind of hard work for him.

Because every land-locked Oklahoman should have an Australian beach cottage on their feed burner to call upon whenever the going gets droughty. Or sweaty. Or dusty. All of which I can pretty much guarantee on any summer weekend in our state.

And now for a word from our friends to the North, eh! OK, that was a cheap shot. How about: this blog has a lot of my favourite colours. Oh, again? Sorry. This Canadian blog pulls together great inspiration photos from all over the online world, which means less aimless surfing for me. Win-win! The site has also contributed to my current obsession with estate sales and hauling home old wooden furniture and stockpiling it in my garage for the day (month) when I will finally have time to refinish and revamp it all.

This site combines two of my first loves, television and movies, with an interior design twist. Recent discovery (the archives here are delicious): an insider’s look at the houses from NBC’s “Parenthood.” Craftsman-bungalow fantasia.

You cannot have a blog list in Oklahoma without mentioning The Pioneer Woman. Seriously. I think it’s been declared a law by our state legislature. And with good reason: P-Dub’s become an internet institution and she’s practically Oklahoma’s answer to Martha Stewart. Look for the archive in the home and garden section of her website and drool over The Lodge re-do and House of Hyacinth entries.

Rachel Shingleton is a local graphic designer with an impeccable eye for bright colors and preppy design. The fabrics and textures showcased on her blog (and in her Etsy shop) are divine. Her writing style is approachable and friendly, but I am still pretty sure I am not cool enough to be reading this blog. Style points galore!

True confessions time: I wish Layla Palmer were my best friend and would come over and plank all my walls and make my house look like an idyllic beach cottage for pennies on the dollar. Extra credit if she brings her hunky, handy husband Kevin. I believe they have filmed an HGTV pilot; but I don’t know what is wrong with those people at HGTV, as it didn’t get picked up. This girl needs her own show, stat. America is missing out on this gem!

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