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New Art in My Living Room

July 20, 2012

I went to Goodwill on Wednesday hoping to find some clothes. I hadn’t shopped for clothes at a Goodwill since like 2007 and this visit reminded me why. I have just become too picky. But with home goods it’s another story. I have no problem thrifting that stuff. So after I failed in the clothing section I figured I’d give the home stuff a look through. I saw some sweet vintage drinking glasses, a pair of quirky lamps, but nothing had me pulling out my wallet until I saw a rather enormous painting for $14.99. I knew I could use a large painting and here’s why:

I hung these (also thrifted) little floral prints about a month ago after painting their frames. Before hanging them I distinctly remember thinking, “Hmm, these are pretty small for such a big wall. But that blank space is killing me!” So I went for it anyway. It doesn’t take a keen eye to recognize how awkward these little guys look on that wall. It’s just wrong. But I lived with it for a while and honestly expected to live with it for much longer but then my new friend came along:

From Before to Better. I’m not calling this an After because, well it’s not even remotely close to what I’d call a finished room. As you learned in my post last week, my home does not yet reflect my style. Slow and steady wins the race so this “Better” progress is enough to keep me and my pocketbook happy for a little bit.

There’s still too much negative space on that wall. But this artwork is so much more appropriately scaled for the space. The old pieces looked completely out of place. This one just looks like it needs to be filled out a little bit (with more art flanking it or perhaps some taller furniture in my wealthier dreams). I briefly considered rehanging the smaller floral prints next to it, but I decided against it.

I moved them to my entryway for now. I don’t like any of these wall colors but I do think this one suits these prints better. Their manila backgrounds looked kind of dirty and odd on the blue wall. I rather like the way this little table is looking at the moment. Far from perfect (the faux flowers are too tall and shouldn’t be all the same height, the books are angled oddly, the umbrella’s colors are out of place), but still better than it has been in the past.

This was an absolute steal at $14.99. A new frame alone at this size would cost well over that. Speaking of the frame, I don’t love it but I don’t hate it. It’s a little too ’90s but I’m letting it slide. The painting itself is a bit generic, but I really do like it. I like landscapes, and this one is so lovely and peaceful. A stream, a boat, a building off in the distance. Looks like the perfect place for a picnic. And the colors. The colors are really what sold me. Such lovely pastels.

When I got it out to my car I noticed a sticker on the back with the name “Almost Heaven” and a $95.00 price tag. 84% off for the win!

You can read about other art pieces in my home here.

Have a great weekend!

My Home

Thoughts On My Home

July 13, 2012

I have been trying to brainstorm what it is exactly that is keeping me from loving the way my home is decorated. The easy answer would be, “There’s not enough furniture,” or “The furniture I have is all cheap” and those are very valid points. But if I’ve learned anything from design blogs it’s that it is entirely possible to have a beautiful home on a very tight budget and small changes can make a huge difference. I just haven’t figured out how to do that in my own home yet!

I kind of wrote this post for myself. I needed to form some coherent thoughts about all this. If that sounds tedious to you, you’re welcome to scroll to the end where I included a few pretty inspiration pictures. 🙂

Here’s what I think are my main issues:

  • Cohesion
  • Color Palette
  • Lighting

Cohesion, harmony, a sense of congruity. A chosen style or vibe that runs throughout the entire home. This means something different to every homeowner, and with the eclectic look as popular as it is this can be quite tricky. For me, my goal with cohesion is simply to move away from the hodgepodge I’ve got going on. You know how when you first move out of your parents house and you realize how much STUFF you need to live on your own? For most of us that means lots of hand-me-downs and thrifting. Before long you may have a lot of things that added up together make your home feel immature.

Behold a shot of my completely unstyled room-of-the-bed. I don’t really want to call it a “bedroom” because it literally has been given zero attention. Zero. So please don’t judge me. The bed wasn’t always in front of a window like that, and while it doesn’t really bother me, when photographed it becomes painfully obvious that it is not working where it is. Thrift store nightstand, tired old bedding, vintage wood headboard (which is sweet but not making any sense in the context), and a horrible dorm-room-esque floor lamp. There’s no plan, no design, no cohesion.

Here’s another shot that illustrates my lack of cohesion. Ikea, Ikea, Ikea, and another dorm-room-esque floor lamp. I’ve tried my darndest to inject some personality with accessories, but there’s just no foundation.

It may take me a while before I can afford to replace the belongings of mine that contribute to this lack of harmony and “design”, but I’m hopeful that in the mean time I may be able to do some editing or rearranging or purging to create as much cohesion as possible.

Color palette is a huge one for me. There are two (small) rooms that I have repainted within the last year or so and I love both of them. Every other room needs to be repainted. I’ve got brown (poop), blue (not a nice blue), tan (suffocating), green (like a rain forest circus), and some basement walls that still have dings and crayon marks all over them from the previous owner. Here’s a mash-up of photos I took of my walls:

This crazy combination of browns and misplaced jolts of color are really not doing it for me. I’ll admit that that green is not a bad color inherently but it’s in a tiny unused room and something about it is just not working. Here let me show you want I mean.

It’s just like WOW that’s a lot of really intense green and absolutely nothing to balance it out or break it up. I don’t use this room. There isn’t even anything in that dresser. So who knows when this will be addressed.

I can not wait to wipe the wall color slate clean, particularly the browns on my main level. Creating an overall pleasing color palette will be infinitely more straight forward. I also need to be more mindful of how the color of all of my furnishings and accessories interact with one another. Right now I’m just working with what I’ve got. I’d love things to look more deliberate. Again, editing and rearranging and purging will be a huge part of this.

Lighting has been said to be the single most important thing in a home. And I have become convinced that that is true. The lighting in my home is awful. Allow me to illustrate.

This is an unedited photo of my cat Milo successfully finding one of the few sunny spots in my home. Do you see that amazing darkness he’s avoiding? Admittedly it is exaggerated from this particular vantage point but I think you get the point.

I’ve got problems with both the quantity of light and the aesthetics of my light fixtures. I have a pair of nice sconces in my half bath and one table lamp that I’m fond of. Everything else makes me cringe. Outdated and cheap. Dark corners and half-lit rooms.

So what’s existing could really stand to be switched out, and on top of that I really just need more light. My design muse Abigail Ahern often talks about scattering little table lamps all over a room to create a warm almost twinkling glow with interesting shadows, and I’m fascinated by that idea. Consider me officially on the look out for fun little lamps.

Okay. Since that was probably downright painful for your eyeballs, here’s a few shots that I consider to be dream rooms. I may not have the space or architecture to replicate any of this, but I still love to keep beauties like this in mind!

Designed by Melanie Davis via House of Turquoise.

The home of Lilly via Sweet Thing.

I seriously can’t get enough of this kitchen. Every single thing about it makes me weak in the knees! Photographed by Michael Graydon.

Happy Weekend!

Miscellaneous My Home

Frame Painting and A Styling Shuffle

June 1, 2012

Remember this photo?

Those are the two $2.50 framed floral prints I picked up at White Barn Thrift Store. I accidentally deleted the close-up photo I’d taken of the frames, but you can see here that they are a dark wood with a painted stripe of olive green. The wood is not offensive by any means but the olive green stripe is another story. Plus, they were pretty beat up.

I was contemplating painting them with one of three acrylic paints: black, cobalt blue, or neon pink. I love all of those colors, but honestly I was dying to use the neon pink.

So I did! Now I do not in any way claim to know what the crap I am doing when it comes to this stuff. This was only the second time I ever attempted to paint wood and I tend to get so excited about these projects that I jump in without properly thinking things through. I did fortunately have the presence of mind to thoroughly tape off the art to protect it (which I deemed to be simpler in this instance than removing them from the frames.) Then I just globbed some pink paint onto a frame… and quickly realized that was not going to work at all. So I pressed pause and busted out some sandpaper and primer, because duh those are good things to use when painting wood. A light sanding and dried priming later and I was still getting this:

What… the heck. Supposedly acrylic paint is fine for use on wood. And with a sanding and priming?! I was flustered, to say the least. I still am not sure if the problem was the type of paint or simply the fact that I had purchased really cheap paint. This neon pink variety in particular was the cheapest off-brand they had at the craft store. The above photo was taken after like three coats. So yeah, not happening. I was sad. From far away the color looked great, but I was not okay with how crappy things were up close. Plan B.

I decided to go to the other side of the spectrum and bust out the highest quality paint I had on hand. I didn’t even want to mess with one of the other acrylic paints. What I ended up using is the same paint that is on the bottom half of my dining room walls, which is the color “Napoleon” by Olympic color-matched for Valspar Signature. It often reads as black on my walls, but as you can see it is really an inky blue gray. It went on smoothly and easily.

Obviously this is entirely different from neon pink, but I’m okay with that. You know I’m all about embracing trends, but clearly I’m much less likely to get tired of dark gray than I am of neon pink.

I had been planning on actually hanging them some where, but propping them up here was simpler for the time being. Then I was all… “Ew.” I have never loved the way this IKEA Expedit shelf is styled. It is just… not good. A few days after finishing up the frames I decided to tackle the problem. I removed everything, wiped it all down, and when I put it all back together this is what I had:

Soooo much better.

The first decision I made was that those door inserts needed to move. I think they look much nicer in their new placement. All I have in there is a bunch of DVDs that I never ever watch, so being able to access them without bending down was a non-issue.

The key to this styling shuffle was editing, something I’ve only just begun to play with. Some things clearly needed to go: the cat toys, the Ugly Dolls, and the unattractively stacked mismatch of books. I made room for the cat toys behind one of the doors so they would still be accessible for play time with Milo. The Ugly Doll collection found a new home on top of the dresser in my spare bedroom.

I’m in an over-sharing mood, so allow me to give each cubby some individual attention.

One of my newly-painted thrift store art pieces and a copper cup. This cubby’s a little bare, but I wasn’t going for a stuffed-full look so it works.

The bowl was purchased in Guatemala. I’ve noticed that many styling vignettes that I like include books, so even though I’m not a ravenous reader I decided to add some to this shelf. Previously most of these were living on a bookshelf in my spare bedroom, which worked fine but now they get to act as decorative elements which I’d say is a much more fulfilling purpose for them. They really helped make things look more “finished”.

And I’m super proud of the bottom two books which I wrapped to hide their rather ugly binding. The bottom one is wrapped in a scrap piece of fabric and the one above it in wrapping paper. There’s still a whole lot of colors represented in the whole shelf, but I tried to keep things looking at least remotely harmonious.

Some Elle Decor magazines were moved and neatly stacked to provide some height for these objects. I’m totally in love with my little cat and mouse sculpture which is a recent gift from my boyfriend. The store that he bought them from is an incredibly cool place that I will be featuring in a Shopping Adventures post! I’m also quite proud of the reed diffuser. It is by Compagnie de Provence which are the folks that make the super fancy Savon de Marseilles hand soap. It’s basically just fancy, wonderful smelling soap that comes in a designer-y glass bottle. I’ve never used the soap but I can tell you their “Mediterranean” scent is magnificent.

The second of my thrift store paintings plus a pair of taper candles. Very little thought went into this cubby other than I decided to place things symmetrically, something I don’t normally do. I like it.

Some more books came out of hiding for this spot, and oh my doesn’t my metal bear figurine work perfectly as a book end! Yes. Yes he does.

My boyfriend’s Indiana Jones Monopoly just looks like a simple wooden box at first glance, and that’s how I prefer it, haha. This cubby also gets a thrift store brass “X” and little clay figurine.

Finally, the top. Faux poppies, “The Birds of America” as illustrated by John James Audubon (another gift from the boyfriend), copper sugar pot, and my most favoritest little celluloid deer figurine.

He does admittedly get a little lost up top with all the other big objects, so he’ll probably get moved around from time to time.

So! If you ignore the fact that too much of my furniture is IKEA and I have ugly wires exposed… I’m pretty dang pleased with this little corner of my living room. The keys to this styling refresher were: simplifying the color palette, repeating a few key colors (red, gold, gray), adding some books to fill things out, and being more intentional about my placement of everything.

I am still very much a novice at styling, but it was pretty thrilling to just jump in and give it a try. I’m sure I still have much to improve upon, but trust me, it is worth it to try mixing things up even if you’re not sure of what you’re doing. Are there any spots in your home that need a styling shuffle? Tell me about it!

Miscellaneous My Home

My Design Project – The Beegwell’s Beach House

April 29, 2012

How would you like to see what’s been keeping me so busy lately? It’s the interior decoration of an imaginary beach house for an imaginary retired couple by the name of Beegwell! Yay imagination! The assignment called for us to draw an electrical plan, a furniture plan, and source nearly every item for the home among other things. What I’m sharing with you is only about 15% of the products I rounded up for this home. It was a lot of work!

The style I was going for is a blend of rustic, time-worn, and textural, with sophisticated French classics, and finally a touch of steely, manly industrialism. The color palette consists mostly of taupe, soft whites, gray, yellow, and gentle blues. Links for everything can be found below.

Vintage Velvet Drapery / Draper Stripe Throw
Wedgewood Orb / Aries Pendant
Maison Armoire / Vienne French Four-Poster Bed
Victorian Hotel Pendant / Sapphire Vases
Marseilles Leaner Mirror / Elle Bench
French Colonnade Console Table / Maison Nightstand

Wine Barrel Round 6-Arm Chandelier / Alexa Candlestick
Belgian Slope Arm Slipcovered Sofa / French Tilt-Top Side Table
Suede Pillows / Greenwich Chair
Vintage Naan Bowl / Dutch Industrial Coffee Table
Elm & Iron Leaner Shelving / “Sea Sky Myth I” by Valerie B Hird

I had a lot of fun with this, and while I feel a little more variety would have been ideal (there is a whole lot of Restoration Hardware going on here), I think I did a decent job pulling some comfortable and classy rooms together.

The thing is, as much fun as it is to shop online and make moodboards, I so wish I could actually feel these things in my hands. Move them around, adjust, edit, style, and really get a feel for how they work together within four walls. All this abstract work is useful but not very fulfilling. You know what I mean? As soon as I had a moment to breathe after the semester ended I found myself attempting to freshen things up around my own home by moving a few things around.

I do not know how I had not yet used this table cloth! I purchased it in Guatemala in January 2008 and it’s been stored out of sight ever since. Not only does it have personal meaning for me as a souvenir, but I’m also suddenly madly in love with it’s bold graphic pattern and blue hue. I’d dare say it is rather on trend for something I bartered for in a crowded Central American market four years ago. Oo I sound so well-traveled talking like that. Keeping it real: that is the only exciting place I’ve been.

Why yes, I have put a bird on it. Beautiful, cobalt blue, Guatemalan birds in a repeat pattern all over my dining table. I love them.

P.S. I just bought those faux flowers the other day. I love the bit of pink they bring to the room but whoa are those stems too long for this space. I need a wire cutter stat.

 So how are you?! I feel like I’ve been out of the blog world so long. It’s good to be back!

Miscellaneous My Home

My New Dining Room Drapery

March 27, 2012

I’m fairly certain that I mentioned a while back that I was looking to procure some new window treatments for my dining room. When I repainted the room I removed the terrible horrible faux-wood blinds that came with the condo. And then I lived without anything covering that window for months. Which is embarrassing. And then something even more embarrassing happened. I was working at my dining table on a drawing project for school, being that it is the only open flat surface I have in my home to do such things. It was a sunny day in the middle of winter and all that sun was bouncing off the white snow and blinding my eyeballs as I tried to work. This induced a state of what I like to call… resourceful desperation. I began searching my home for anything I could possibly block some of the window with. I’ll attempt to lessen the blow on my ego by completing this story without full sentences.

An unused fitted twin sheet. Staples.

So let’s just say that I had some good motivation to finally commit to a set of drapes. This is after months and months of looking. I kept changing my mind about what I wanted. A graphic print? A feminine color? Designer fabric custom made? Well the answer to all of those was eventually no. I decided to go with something simple, dark, and with a touch of fancy.

They are West Elm’s Velvet Grommet Window Panel in Regal Blue. The velvet being the touch of fancy. The Regal Blue color is quite dark, but not as dark as the near-black paint (Napoleon by Olympic). I like the tone-on-tone subtlety. Here’s a close-up so you can see the colors more clearly:

I purchased the rod at Lowe’s months before I found drapes. I was only supposed to be browsing while my car’s oil was changed next door but then I saw this snazzy oiled bronze rod with acrylic sphere finials. And it was on clearance. And there was only one left. Had to do it. Lowe’s still offers this rod however it looks like they only have a brushed nickel version now. Perhaps brushed nickel may have coordinated a little better with the drapery’s stainless steel grommets, but I’m over it. I’m not a matchy matchy person anyway.

As for length, I really wanted the floor-to-ceiling look. The ceiling in this room is a couple inches short of 8 feet. Most rooms are a full 8 feet (or higher) so companies like West Elm offer drapes in exactly that length (96 inches). I probably would never have considered puddling drapes if it hadn’t been for this limitation. I went with the 96″ length and just let several inches of that gather on the floor. I’ve had them up for a month now and I still like it. Despite having a cat (who managed to sneak into this post as usual), I haven’t noticed any bothersome accumulation of fur or otherwise.

Puddling drapery is usually associated with opulence and tradition, but I think it can totally work in most any style. I also think this luxurious length suits the soft velvet very well.

Here you can see how sunlight looks through these curtains. The blue color really shines, which I love. And how sunny it has been lately! The tree outside this window was in bloom when I first moved in, and every year since it has made me happy.

Anyone else picking out window treatments lately? I am an exceptionally indecisive person but I think this is a difficult task in any case. If you have any stories or tips, I’d love to hear them!

Decorate Home Products My Home

My Christmas Decorations

December 22, 2011

The star of every show in my home, Milo the cat. The reason I got out the camera that day was to snap a few shots of this vintage ceramic Christmas tree I’d just scored at my local antiques shop, and as usual Milo thought the pictures would be much better with him in them. And he’s right.

Have you seen these trees before? They’re pretty dang charming. And they light up! My tree was marked at $15 but I got it when the shop was having a sale so that shaved off 10%.

Here it is. My Christmas corner. I call it that because it’s the only spot in the house that is decorated. A little pathetic, but I don’t mind. (Note: I am sorry that I am such a failure at taking decent pictures in anything but very bright light.)

The presents for my family and friends are all wrapped in one of two coordinating papers left over from last year. The “tree skirt” is actually a faux garland that I just wrapped around the stand, and I popped in a big fake poinsettia flower too.

The string of lights you see is kind of ridiculous, and not my first choice for placement at all. It is my only string of lights, and as you can see it has green cord so I was not about to put it on my white tree. I hastily put it up last week when I was going batty not having some more twinkle.

The 6 foot tree is basically the cheapest tree you will ever find, $20 at the dollar store. I would have liked it to be much more decorated, but this is all I had the money and motivation for this year.

I bought these plain glass ornaments at Hobby Lobby and fancied them up myself. Half of them are stuffed with white and green feathers (ridiculously easy to do but admittedly does not have quite the dramatic effect I was hoping for). The other half have been coated on the inside with craft paint. This process was a little tedious and a bit time consuming, but very easy. I got the idea from Young House Love where you can find a detailed how-to.

This is my favorite part. I had been eyeing this hollow metal bear since the first time I ever went to the antiques shop over a year ago. Thanks to a 40% off sale he was only $6! He is standing on a big metal letter “X”, which was my half-brained way of keeping him from getting swallowed up in all the fur.

The candles and their holders are from World Market, and one is resting on an upside down IKEA pot. Because why not? And finally everything is atop my IKEA sheepskin. I love the softness it adds and also, it looks like snow!

So that’s what I got for this year. Pretty simple and more than a little random, but I still see this as a step up from past years and it’s enough to make me feel festive and cozy, and that’s what really matters.

Now just for fun, here’s some Christmas decorations that are available for purchase online that have caught my eye. I realize that it’s probably too late to order any of this in time for the holiday, but I hope you still enjoy browsing and maybe you can snatch something up at a discount to use next year!

Mistletoe Light Garland / Gold Beaded Pine Cones
Kasbah Lights / Glass Pumpkin Baubles
White Berry Garland

All of the above products are offered by Cox & Cox, a UK company (they do ship internationally including to the United States). They have so many wonderful Christmas items, do check them out!

Felt Garland / Chindi Reindeer & Moose
Winter Wonder Tray / Nordic Icicle Ornaments

Clicking through these links I realize now that a lot of these items are sold out, and for that I apologize! If nothing else I hope you’ve found some inspiration or enjoyed the festive spirit here today! 🙂