August 3, 2016

Getting “old”


“I say getting old is a very cruel joke on people that are just trying to gain wisdom without the external side effects!” Stephen Spurling 

Drapes Hanging On Your Front Porch!?!?


      This is not as crazy as it sounds, but I am crazy about offering the concept of drapes on your front porch!  After all it is another room that we use as often as the weather will allow. My front porch drapes are painting drop cloths from Home Depot. The perfect size drop cloth is a 6×9 which  runs about $10. This size makes one perfect panel with no altering needed! I used four drop cloths for four panels which is less expensive than a fabric shop. I also bought a 1 inch wooden dowel rod from Home Depot and a can of spray paint to make the curtain rod. Real curtain rods are too expensive and may corrode. Wooden dowel rods can be cut to the perfect size for your porch. I did have to buy curtain rings and curtain rod holders, and they sell all these accessories separately. You will need to wash the drop cloths before hanging, I didn’t dry mine in the dryer. They hang better if you don’t. Finally if you want a different color beside the beige (natural) color of the drop cloth you can use Rit dye. So now you see that you can have drapes on your porch. It doesn’t cost a lot of money to bring a welcome interior feature outside and offer a little extra privacy! Stephen Spurling


Painted Brick


We don’t all think painting a brick house is a good thing, but sometimes it’s the only option. This house was built in the 1930″s and has weathered many years of repairs to the exterior. Some repairs were what I call putting a “Band-Aid” on the problems which did lead to more damage and decreased the pristine look of the original brick exterior. Painting the brick was an excellent way to update the house without changing any  of its original architectural features.  Check out the pictures… either way it’s a 1930′s bungalow!





















Are You Ready for ” Radiant Orchid”?

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There seems to be a new front runner for color in 2014. It’s called Radiant Orchid.

Now you know we love color here at Southern Smarts, but do find this years Pantone pick should be used sparingly. We cannot imagine a whole room painted this color as one may feel trapped in a bottle of Pepto- Bismal. However, this wonderful color may certainly be used in window treatments, accessories, pillows or even as an accent paint. A wall of bookcases in neutral like a soft grey would be elegant and stunning.

This is a cool, very daring color that if used sparingly can create quite the wow factor. What a great way to brighten up the winter months by accenting with this bold and hip color! Chabby.



Tree Trimming Tips.


This is how Southern Smarts really trims a tree! Literally! The idea behind thinning out your Christmas tree is to give some depth and dimension to your lights and decorations. A big full Frazier fir is beautiful, but can be difficult to decorate with out giving it a flat look. If you go down your tree and evenly trim out some branches giving some space to the trunk, you can hang your ornaments and string your lights in a way that gives your tree a much richer look. This highlights some of your beautiful ornaments, and gives you an excuse to buy more! On sale of course!

Happy decorating!

All I Want for Christmas is The Carolina Dog Ladder!

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         Hi! It’s Cooper! I am putting this at the top of my Christmas list! I love my time on the coast, and this ladder makes is so easy for me to get out of the water so I can jump right back in again! And I feel safe! No more crawling to the dock and being a little scared I won’t make it! It was no problem for me to figure out, and this great idea makes playing in the water more fun for everyone! Check out this great story below, and I say support a business entrepreneur!



The Carolina Dog Ladder

Facebook:   The Carolina Dog Ladder

Phone:  843-906-6717


The edges of the eastern and southern U.S., along with thousands of lakes, rivers and ponds dotting the interior, play host to tens of thousands of docks.  Great playgrounds for dogs of all types, but especially sporting dogs and their masters who love a good retriever training session or just a fun game of leap, swim ‘n fetch.

20 years ago on Edisto Island, SC my Dad and I were enjoying such an afternoon with his labrador Jessie.  The challenge of his Milton Creek dock, along with just about any other dock, was that Jessie had no way to swim back onto the dock with her retrieved toy.  She had to swim back in through the marsh grass, pluff mud and oyster shells, and then make her way back down the walkway to the dock to complete her retrieve.

Dogs have been known to drown attempting to “crawl” their way up onto a dock.  Their hind legs have nothing to step onto, and many will sink quickly if their front paws slip from whatever they’ve managed to grab on the dock.

That evening we sketched out the concept for the Carolina Dog Ladder on the back of a paper plate.  Within a few days Dad had brought our engineering creativity to life, and our first dog ladder was affixed to his dock.  He had explained it all to Jessie as it was built and attached to the dock, and according to his tale, she knew precisely what it was for and swam right up on it with the next floating tennis ball toss.

As soon as each of his neighbors saw it, they were offering Clemson-Carolina ballgame tickets, bushels of oysters… anything in exchange for one to adorn their docks.  Several dozen still remain affixed to old Edisto docks, along with friends’ docks in Florida, Georgia and Alabama.  Dad has seen many a “thanks Old Man” glance from more than a few wet dogs.

Flash forward to 2013, and after hearing, “…y’all need to sell those things” more than I could bear, I’ve put some energy into building a brand and small business out of The Carolina Dog Ladder.   Yes, since 1993 a few others have designed various ramps and contraptions allowing dogs to swim up to boats or docks, but none are as functional, sturdy or unique as ours.  The Carolina Dog Ladder is made locally (in our South Carolina workshop) from local pressure-treated pine, and can be shipped nationally.

For us, it’s more about the lifestyle of floating docks, rising and falling tides and dogs that love to get wet.  Yes, the Carolina Dog Ladder makes swimming from a dock safer for a dog, more convenient for masters, and has clever features like a sliding ladder that pins into place up out of the water when not in use.   But it’s really about happy dogs, proud of their swimming skills and enjoying the water with their best friends.

-Jack Liles            cell 404-384-5294    




Holiday Garland! From Artificial to Outstanding!


Decking the Halls can be fun, and even more gratifying if it looks fabulous and is economical!

We  dressed our doorway with a strand of artificial garland with lights. We wanted the garland to look natural, and priced natural pine garland at our local farmers market to add to our swag. Very pricey. So, we decided we could use some of the Christmas tree branches we had cut from our tree, and it worked perfectly! Natural branches were attached using left over green wire ornament hooks. The pine around the door looks natural, and the artificial garland does its job by supporting the lights. This works for doorways, mantles, and staircases. Using your reserved trimmings makes for an economical upgrade. Of course you can also do the same with flowers and berries. Anchor with some artificial flowers, and fill in the rest with what is in your yard. Remember here at Southern Smarts we are committed to simpler living for simpler times! Especially around the holidays!

All Wrapped Up For The Holidays

SS Happy Holidays Glow w Type-w390-h245

We are working diligently on our Stephen T and Vikki Lee show… A bigger undertaking than we originally thought. We did get this clip edited in time to wish everyone an awesome holiday season. Be sure to watch all the way to the end… because I sing!!! (not a good thing) It really is a testament to one stepping out of their comfort zone for a laugh! Thanks Stephen T.

All Wrapped Up for the Holidays SS from Stephen Spurling on Vimeo.

Hands On!!!


I found some pictures from a project from 15 years ago…. and all these years later I am still hands on! I wanted everyone to know that I do not drive around in a big red truck,  bossing everyone around. I do have a big gray truck,  but it is full of tools I use and yes I still climb ladders. I am crazy about my work! I have always said that I will probably die with a hammer in my hand, but I haven’t missed a thing! Stephen

Something to Cheer About!

Cheers! Xmas cocktail.-w520

The Holidays call for something special in your glass for many seasonal cheers.  Here is a recipe for a traditional favorite with a little twist.

1  ounce Vanilla Vodka

1 1/2 ounce Baileys Irish Cream

desired amount of Half and Half

Frozen Coffee ice cubes

Mix well and enjoy!