The good advice to unplug for a while came to us by way of editor in chief Lindsay Bierman in this month's Southern Living. And trust me: that lemon pie on the cover is reason enough to distract you from your duties. I served it for dessert after a casual dinner on our porch last weekend, and it's glorious.


So when I haven't been entertaining friends or puttering in the garden this summer, I've been doing what I do bestโ€”shopping! My new column In With the Old has kept the two of us quite busy with trips to flea markets throughout the South and a series of photo shoots here at the house. Check out this pair of architectural columns I found at the Renniger's Antique Extravaganza in Mt. Dora, Florida.


Like any other diamond in the rough, multiple lives had resulted in layers of cracked and peeling paint.


Still, they had a great look with beaded detailing around the tops I loved. At about five feet high, I imagine they might have once stood upon bases supporting the roof over a breezy, open air porch, perfect for summer entertaining. That was just the inspiration I needed for one bright idea: standing floor lamps with durable outdoor shades to light up the night!


To start, I sanded the pair of columns and attached simple, unfinished wood bun feet for added height. After priming and painting everything a creamy shade of white, I topped the columns with fence post caps from Lowe's and used a lamp kit to wire them for electricity. If your lamps are in a covered area (such as a porch or sunroom) where they won't get wet, a regular lamp kit will work fine. Get my step-by-step directions here.


To give the columns a stylish, more decorator look, I had our good friend Susan Schneider of Shandell's create custom, porch-appropriate drum shades using outdoor fabric from Quadrille, water-resistant adhesive and vellum plastic frames. I had her railroad the fabric (apply it horizontally) to echo the column's fluting.


When it comes to outdoor living, deep comfortable seating is a must, and ours is from Hayneedle. To finish the look, I paired airy, Bohemian-style napkins from World Market with solid linen for inexpensive custom throw pillows.


After a serendipitous visit from new neighbors during the shoot with their adorable yellow lab Jasper, here's how it all turned out!


Huge thanks to photographers Miki Duisterhof and Ralph Anderson, together with all the editors at Southern Living for their contributions to the story. Nowโ€”if I could only put down my cocktail and pick up my laptop more often…