Friday, September 28, 2012

Sarah Richardson living room, design IDEAS

I really really want to show you this amazing living room from Sarah Richardson's Toronto home featured in HGTV Magazine, but I cannot find a full size image from the article.  This small snippet is all I could glean from her website, but you can see the entire room if you go to the website (look in the upper right corner for "click to read article").

I love this room.  The red and orange chevron drapes make a huge statement, and I am rapidly becoming obsessed with persian rugs.  I love the idea of using  projector tv, where the screen rolls up to reveal art when you aren't watching tv.

You know what else I noticed?  The bones of the room are neutral furniture and a multicolored persian rug.  Take away the drapes and the red/orange accents, and you have a blank slate.


Now that we've decided to stay in this house for another year, I'm looking at design problems that have bugged me in this house but I haven't felt like putting much effort into since I had planned on leaving in a few months.  And today I had AN IDEA about what to do with the Princess's bedroom and the upstairs landing and hooooo boy I am putting the Mister to work this weekend.

I'm sure the Mister will be thrilled to hear it.

I'm still working on an extremely limited budget, and we are still only staying an extra year, not forever, so I don't want to spend any money on this house. I'm just trying to implement ideas using what I already have for free or can gussy up inexpensively.  BUT I HAVE IDEAS!

I think the wallowing may be over.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Paint a Rug Party: work in progress

Last week I showed you pictures of my striped rug inspiration; this week I'm getting down to business.

I started with the cream colored 4 x 7-ish Ikea Erslev rug.  I have two of these rugs; they were the rugs in my master bedroom of our last house.  Currently one is in my master bathroom and the other was in my closet.  I pulled the one out of my closet because it was cleanest, and got to work.

I taped down a tarp in the garage and put the rug on top so the paint wouldn't bleed through.

Then lectured myself for taking a three year old to Lowes at 4 pm in the afternoon.  

With a measuring tape I measured the rug into approximate thirds.  With a woven rug its not that easy to make exact measurements; the rug is uneven on the sides and sort of stretchy.

At top and bottom I measured in 18.5 inches from either side, leaving the middle stripe a slightly smaller 18 inches.  I marked the spots lightly with a pen.  I did this multiple times down the rug.  

Then I connected the dots with a long level, drawing two long stripes down the rug.

Once I had the rug divided in thirds, I started taping.  I used two inch 3M painting tape, and I used scissors to make sure that each end edge of the tape was  straight (ie. I didn't rip off pieces of tape).

To make sure that the space between each stripe was equal, I used a small strip of tape as a spacer (see the little strip of tape between the spaces in the picture above?). Thus, the tape is a two inch stripe, and the open stripe is also two inches.  The very last stripe is a wee bit less than two inches, but its not very noticeable.

On the second row I started with the open space, and then the third row was started at the top again.

Surprisingly, it only took me about a half hour to tape the whole thing.

Easy, right?  Now we'll just paint the rug and be done with it, right?

Not so fast.

Since this is going in my master bathroom, where I will walk on it barefoot every day, I would like for it to be soft, not crusty with paint. This could be easily solved with textile medium, which turns regular paint into fabric paint.  Unfortunately, there is no textile medium to be had anywhere around here--I have been to every craft and paint store in the area, and no luck.  I can't find any recipes for making your own textile medium on the interwebs.

Before ordering the medium on Amazon, I thought I'd try other options.

I tried fabric spray paint.  I'd been thinking of trying this paint for various projects, but at $8 for a 2.5 oz bottle, it doesn't seem like it would go very far.

I was right, one bottle does not go very far.

And it doesn't exactly give a lot of coverage, either.

Also, despite being "fabric" paint, it is still on the crunchy side.

Next up, I experimented with fabric dye.  I used a smaller woven bathmat for this experiment, similar to the Erslev rug.

I fastened a spray bottle top to the fabric dye bottle and just sprayed the rug.  The fabric dye was mostly contained by the tape and didn't seep very much (although the spraying went everywhere).  After four days of drying time, the rug is mostly dry and not crunchy.  BUT the dye rubs off on my hands when I touch it, even though its dry.  Grr.  So this doesn't seem to be a very viable method.

I will note that I didn't bother washing the rug and then setting it in the dryer on high heat, as per the fabric dye instructions, because its not something I will be able to do with the bigger rug.  So perhaps that might impact the finish.

So, here we are.  I am debating ordering the textile medium, or just painting the rug and putting it in my foyer instead.  Come back next week and find out what I decided.

See the other participants and their painting processes:

Chinoiserie Chic

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

pumping gas, October, house hunting

Despite having pumped my own gas now for six months, I always pull in to the pump, turn off the car, and sit there, waiting for the attendant.  Then after no one comes, I think OH RIGHT and get out and do it myself. Every time.

I have zero idea how to pay with cash.  Does one walk into the store and ask them to turn on the pump?  Pump first, then pay? Ask for $20 on pump #7?  What if you want to fill up and don't know how much it will cost?

Life skillz, I haz them!  You're never too old to learn something new.


Greg is out of school on three weeks of fall vacation.  I am greatly enjoying sleeping in for another forty-five minutes in the morning.


Despite the fact that next week is October (the hell??), it is still the height of summer here.  It looks pretty much the same as when we got here six months ago, although I'd say the outdoors is a bit browner and crispier looking.  But otherwise, the same.  And hot.

It feels very weird not to have seasons.  And not to be needing long pants even though next week is October.


We have decided to call off the house hunting and stay in our town for another year.  We have a number of things we'd like to do next year, and we've decided to do them instead of buying a house.

I cannot live with the current living room furniture arrangement for another eighteen months--I was willing to put up with it for six more months if we were buying a house, but Something Must Be Done if we are to stay here longer.  Look for my post on living without furniture in your living room, coming soon!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

destructive children and hard top tables

My kids have destroyed nearly every piece of furniture we own.  At their hands my red leather Odeon chair has a jagged puncture on one side and is covered in pen.  The blue chair has a hole in the cushion and is stained with popsicle.  The Room and Board sofa, only two years old, has a cracked frame and the springs are broken, and is stained beyond repair.  The new ottoman is lacking tufting buttons. The dining chairs are begrimed and someone has unscrewed the seat from every single chair.  Don't even ask how many beds we have bought. My preshus snowflakes are thorough in their pillaging.

Our Pottery Barn table has not held up well, even with the glass top. Although the glass top has protected the table from most dings and scratches in the center of the table, the finish is chipped off around the entire edge.  Also, an unforeseen effect of a glass top---anything spilled seems to find its way to pooling under the glass, thus warping and stripping the finish underneath.

The best situation would be to find a 100 year old farm table that is worn and smooth and has gotten an aged patina from destructive children using it.  Anyone have one of those?  I find that the finish on our PB table and our old Crate and Barrel table seems to be a very thin veneer that stands up to nothing.  I have thought of refinishing our PB table, but the thought of stripping the detailed legs makes me procrastinate.

For my next table (not being bought anytime soon), I have been contemplating a table with a hard, impervious top.  This Pratt table from Room and Board comes in a number of different finishes; the one below is marble (pretty, but not great at resisting stains).  But I like the thought of getting a table that is not going to show every ding or warp when milk is spilled and not cleaned up two seconds later.

I do not particularly like the x-base style of this table, but I LOVE the thought of a zinc top table.  I'd prefer a parsons-style table instead.

This one is prettier.

Anyone have any experience with a marble or zinc top table?  Love it, hate it?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Design fail: ottoman

Remember when I bought this ottoman a few months ago?

Prior to the round ottoman, I had two square leather ottomans.

I liked their functionality--the Mister and I could sit on the sofa and both prop our feet up on separate ottomans, they were good for extra seating, they had storage inside, and you could flip the top over and use them as tables for eating.  However, they were extremely heavy, hard to move around, and just felt like it was two more pieces of furniture cluttering up what is already a very small space.

Aesthetically, I like the round tufted ottoman.  It looks nicer in the space and it provides a better traffic flow than the two squares. little hamster legs can't reach the ottoman when I sit in my favorite spot at the end of the sofa.  And at forty-two inches, the ottoman nearly touches the center of the sofa and both chairs on the other side.  Its a wee bit too big for the spot.  There's too much furniture in this tiny room.

Although it looks pretty, the round ottoman is a functional design fail.

Ever bought anything tht you loved how it looks but it just doesn't perform how you had hoped?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Honeycrisps, end of the wallowing

It took ten days of concerted effort, but I finally declared dominion over Greg's birthday cake leftovers.

There are  no Honeycrisp apples to be had here!  WTH, Southern California??  The best part of fall is eating a Honeycrisp apple and wearing a sweater in 50 degree weather.  Neither of which are happening in this 98 degree desert. Harry and David wants $45 + shipping for $3 worth of apples. Hmph.

I have been wallowing for a few months weeks in my first world problems of what am I going to do with my life and I don't have a career and where are we going to live next year and ugh I don't want to move again and my babies are all in school and I am old and I should be doing something productive with all this time my children aren't around.

Perhaps you've noticed my blogging and decorating has been sporadic at best.  Wallowing sucks up blogging time. Moving here sort of threw me for a loop and its taken me a while to readjust.

I think I'm done wallowing for the moment.  I don't have a career.  I can't figure out what to do with my lack of career. I'll figure it out eventually. We'll find a house, and it will either be here where I have made friends, or it won't.  There are currently four houses for sale in our price range in this town, so its unlikely I will buy here.  I will eventually make new friends yet again.  Deal with it when it comes.

I have done zero productive things with my time while the kids are in school. I thought I would have all this time to do stuff, except I seem to be doing all the same stuff I was doing before, except now its a lot quieter, and I have some time left over to read.

I feel like decorating again.  I have been holding off doing much, what with the wallowing, and with the lack of budget currently and the prospective move to someplace else in six months so spending money on this place doesn't make much sense, but I am feeling up to the challenge again.

Nester has a great series on working with limitations, and that's what I need to do. Luckily I have a garage full of decorating crap and I'm recovering my optimistic outlook.

Things will come around again. Right?


For thirty-eight years I have associated September with cool nights and tuning leaves and really good apples and buying long pants and sweaters.  I keep picking up long pants and sweaters in Target for the kids, then putting them back because there is no need for long pants and sweaters when the temperatures are consistently 95 degrees with no end in sight.

Friends out  here have said to me that the monotony of the weather is nice once you get used to it. (It has been hot and sunny here for months--no rain, no cloudy days, just sun sun sun.)  I will be thrilled in January when the temps are in the sixties and I'm not shoveling snow or paying our usual $500 heating bill.

But I miss fall.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Paint a Rug Party : Inspiration

Linda of My Crafty Home Life invited me to join a rug painting party, and since I am never one to pass up a project beyond my skill set, I said "sure!"

For a while now I have had my eye on this rug:

via Elle Decor

via Fresh Quince

via Design Manifest

I could buy the Madeline Weinrib version for a gazillion dollars.  Ikea supposedly has a similar version, but I have scoured the Ikeas of four states for the past year and they are always out of stock, so I think Ikea is only pretending to sell that rug.  Rugs USA also has a navy blue version.

My one concern with this rug is that it looks like it will use a hella amount of Frog Tape, does it not?  I reserve the right to change my mind to a less tape-involved design.

I will probably not paint it black, but I do like the three rows of alternating stripes.  I can't decide if I should attempt this with a rug in my master bathroom, or in my foyer.  Check back next Thursday and find out which one I pick.

You can check out other participants in the rug party:

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

art possibilities from the consignment store

Last week I went to the home consignment store to peruse the art selection.  The consignment store is not really a "thrift" store--its more of a used furniture store, and the prices are cheaper than retail but way more expensive than a thrift store.  However, this store gets a huge selection of furniture from model homes in addition to estate sales, so there's usually a large selection of items that are currently trendy and fun.

The art selection is sometimes fabulous, sometimes terrible.

Because much of the art is from model homes they seem to have lots of enormous, oversize paintings of generic, dentist's office type art.  And then sometimes there is this kind of stuff.

As I was perusing the art selection, this jumped out at me.

I love this!  Sadly, it was really expensive.  Supposedly, according to the info on the back, its a Jean Pierre Cassignuel painting named Femme au Chapeau. I have no problem just ordering a print that I like off, but internet research did not turn up this particular painting, and Cassignuel seems to have painted nothing but women in hats, and it appears that every single one of his paintings is named Femme au Chapeau.  Sad, sad.

There was another painting around the way that caught my eye, called Snapdragons.

I love the orange frame and the gold trimmed mat, but again, this art was alot more than I wanted spend, and the frame was in poor condition for the price they were asking.

I would love to put these two paintings over the shoe cubbies in our foyer.  I think I could accomplish something similar by spraypainting an Ikea Ribba frame red, using a gold-trimmed mat, and finding a similar floral print and a print of a lady.

How about this floral?

And this lady?  (I know, she is the antithesis of Cassigneul's lady, but I like her.)

I am in a "lets go buy awesome art!" mood lately, but am trying to control myself. No new art until I buy a house.  Unfortunately there is some fabulous stuff on etsy calling my name.  Help me resist.

What's your favorite art source?  Have any etsy favorites? 

Friday, September 14, 2012

portrait paintings

After a long time of loving abstract art (still do), I am branching out into portraits/pictures with people in them.  I'd love to find some oil paintings, but have searched the thrift stores around here in vain.

These two portraits are in Erin from Design Crisis's house.  Are you reading Design Crisis?  Because it is an excellent excellent super excellent blog.  I lurrrve her house.  (She just had a baby like a week ago, so she hasn't posted much lately, but I am obsessed with her house, so I will wait (im)patiently until she posts again.)

via Design Crisis
This one is also from Design Crisis; you've probably seen this one all over Pinterest and blogland:

via Design Crisis
Kristen Panitch Interiors:
via Kristen Panitch
An enormous portrait of President Harrison in the first episode of Secrets From A Stylist:

via hgtv
Emily Henderson's home office:
via Emily Henderson

Pretty girl in a straw boater in Katie Rosenfeld's house:
via Katie Rosenfeld
Plum Cushion's workroom:
via Little Green Notebook
Ideas on where to find these awesome pieces of art?  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

decorating -R-'s mantel and bookshelves

One of the very first blogs I read was -R-'s And You Know What Else (yes, -R-, I stalked read you for two years before commenting).  I'm super sad she has shuttered that blog, but she and some friends started a new style blog over at Style All Over, so I still get to follow along.

A few weeks ago -R- asked me for some help decorating her fireplace mantel.  She notes that she likes brass and gold pieces, milk glass and colored vases. Here is a picture of her fireplace:

Seeing the tv mounted over the fireplace, I told -R- that she should decorate her mantel with....wait for it....nothing.

I know, I'm a big help.

Putting stuff under the tv would look cluttered and might interfere with viewing the tv.  If you search pinterest for "tv over fireplace", you will find hundreds of pictures of televisions mounted over the fireplace and nothing on the mantelpiece.  I think that the best option here is not to put anything at all up there.

However!  I DO think that -R- should put shelving on either side of the fireplace walls.  The more expensive option would be to invest in built-in cabinetry on either side of the fireplace, like this excellently photoshopped example (thank Emily Henderson for her excellently styled bookshelves):

Because of the vaulted ceilings, I think built-ins that go up to the ceiling would look fantastic. Here I simply photoshopped bright white shelving that was the right shape onto R's picture, but since her living room has muddy earth tones, I would paint the built-ins a creamy off-white, rather than bright white.

However, if -R- would prefer to DIY a cheaper route, putting free-standing sideboards or cabinets on either side of the fireplace, and adding floating shelving above would add a ton of storage and still allow for display pieces. Again, I'd stick with light wood tones like birch, or a creamy off-white to keep the room from looking too dark and heavy.

As for decorating the shelves, my personal theory on stuff people like most and won't get bored of is usually stuff already owned, like souvenirs from travels or your collection of salt shakers lifted from the bars you drank at in college.  However, if one's significant other convinced one to dump the collection of Terrible Towels and that creepy monkey bust, here are a few things that might look nice.

-R- has a dark brown leather sofa, and a chair that is similar to the yellow and red fabric in the moodboard below, but with an additional blue stripe.  These suzani curtains pull all the same colors, and the white background will stand out against the gold walls.

The red lamp is from Target, the gold nugget lamp is from Land of Nod.  All of the other accessories are from ZGallerie.  The nice thing about ZGallerie accessories is that if you have a Home Goods near you, you can find nearly all of the same type of stuff for cheaper.  I have seen the yellow chevron vase actually at Home Goods, as well as white ceramic animals, antlers, colored vases and coral, most of them for $10 - $20.  A can of spray paint will turn them into any color you want.  (I haven't seen the gold skull, I'd probably pay full price for that :-)

gold skull / pearl vases / chevron vase / wood vase / aqua vases / coral / antlers / white dog

Monday, September 10, 2012

blue Gladiator living room

Since I don't actually have a new house to decorate yet, I've been drawing up moodboards to pretend I do.  As you already know, I love the blue Gladiator print. (See the previous bedroom moodboard here.)  Here I've used it as inspiration for a living room.

Somehow, some way, there will be an entire wall of bookshelves in my next house.

I already have the Petrie sofa.

Lately the stuff I've been thinking about is less Hollywood Regency and slightly more bohemian. This Minar rug from Anthropologie is an amazing mix of color and pattern, and you could go in so many different design directions with this rug.  Sadly, it is only 5 x 7, so it probably won't be big enough for a living room unless layered over another rug. Maybe I should draw up a little girl bedroom around this rug.

It is unlikely I will ever own a white upholstered racing stripe chair (that chair is already dirty just by my children eyeing it on the computer screen), but a girl can dream.

For years I have wanted this Kalah ikat fabric, but haven't had anywhere to put it.  I am afraid that by the time I get around to actually buying a house, I will be tired of these fabrics I have loved from afar but don't own and will be on to new and exciting fabrics.  Not bored, really--its just that there are so many wonderful and gorgeous fabrics out there that I want to own them all.  

Because the rug is so patterned and colorful, I would not get too crazy with painted furniture or other patterns. I'd probably stick to wood tones in the furniture (like the dresser and the coffee table) to give the room some more texture but a neutral backdrop to the rug. The bone inlaid mirror, the agate lamp, and the wicker storage basket are natural materials that provide texture, interest and warmth but don't compete with the rug.

The Jonathan Adler fabric pillow mimics the diamond shapes in the rug.

Last but not least, the bubble chandelier is a nice little taste of something different.  

Saturday, September 8, 2012

shut the front door, haircuts, monkeys, Bruce

I thought saying "shut the front door!" was a colloquial way of saying "hey, that's awesome!".  I have been using it frequently as a comment on blogs as a fun way of saying "wow, your DIY project is awesome!"

Apparently what it actually means, according to Urban Dictionary, is "shut the eff up."

If I complimented you recently on your blog on your awesome DIY project, I apologize.  I will be returning to my "oh, I love that color" comments.


I went to the hairdresser for a haircut and to cover up my gray hairs.  I thought, its September, even though it feels like high summer here, so I will just pretend its fall by perhaps putting brown low-lights in my hair, instead of blonde.  The hairdresser talked me into an all-over color instead.

I went from this strawberry blonde:

to this:

This is lightened from the original crazy dark color.  This picture does not reflect the RED RED PURPLISH RED color that it was.  Wine-infused dark brown was NOT the look I was thinking of.  I am washing my hair daily and waiting another two weeks so I can go back to my usual strawberry blonde.

And yes, I went home and plucked my eyebrows into oblivion after seeing that picture.

One of my aunts gifted this bust of a monkey to my grandmother:

It makes monkey noises and turns it head and the eyes and lips open and close.

I need a creepy monkey bust for my own house.

I had a lovely visit with the family over Labor Day weekend.  I got to meet my new nephew Ferb and love me up on some baby:

I love to snuggle babies.  Love it.


In addition to seeing Ferb, I went to a Bruce Springsteen concert.  Bruuuuuuuuce!!!

We have a family tradition of sitting in the very last row for events.  (Ask me about the Nutcracker ballet where we sat behind a structural column.)

Any further back we would have been sitting on I-95.

Although we could barely see Bruce on stage, we had an amazing view of the Philadelphia skyline, and the skyscrapers appeared cut in half by the low hanging clouds. It looked very ominous and Gotham-ish.  Bruce started the concert singing Working Life, and as I sat there in the dark, looking out at the skyline, and all the people around me singing along, with me between my dad and my sister and my mom, I felt the past and the present and the future converging, distilled in that single moment.

I love Bruce.  I love Bruce because my dad loves Bruce.  My dad listened to Bruce Springsteen all throughout my childhood; I can peg every house we lived in with a different Bruce album.  Two years ago my sisters and I took my father to a Bruce concert at the Meadowlands (sitting in nearly the same seats), and it was a religious experience, made more so because it was so great to see my father having such a good time.

I want my kids to have that.  I want my kids to enjoy something because they know I enjoy it, because doing that activity with me is a connection.  Listening to Bruce makes me think of my dad and my childhood and Saturday mornings and long car trips.  I think of my dad opening a new Bruce album and putting it on the record player and dancing me around the living room.  Listening to Bruce makes me remember feeling safe and happy and cherished by my daddy.

I need to give that to my own kids.

Jersey girls represent!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

navy blue library by Phoebe Howard

As I was reading the September issue of House Beautiful on the plane this weekend, I gasped as I came across this blue library decorated by Phoebe Howard.

via Phoebe Howard
I can't find the picture that House Beautiful used.  It was taken from right beside the the leather club chair, and seems slightly different than this picture.  In the HB version, the blue of the wall is deeper and richer, and the blue velvet sofa has a rich shimmer to it. The styling on the side table is also different; there is a yellow vase and a small asian bust instead of the bird and the flowers.

Although I don't think the room shows as nicely in the above picture as it does in the HB picture, I love this room. I love how the gleaming wood of the antique side table and the aged leather complements the deep blue. The red and blue in the rug ties in nicely with the Civil War flag.  I love the BM Newburyport Blue on the walls.  I need a navy blue velvet sofa in my next house.

(I think I could do without that ottoman.)

I would love to do a similar room in our next house.  It works nicely with my current cobalt blue obsession.  Its masculine and traditional.  Seems very man-cave-ish, doesn't it?

Do you have any inspiration images you're currently obsessing on?