Thursday, November 21, 2013

The new floors are in! And they are fabulous!

Our new floors look fabulous.

You'll recall that we had gross berber carpet that looked like this.

Now we have new laminate floors that look like this:

The installers did a nice job with the transition spaces.

The new floors are not an exact match to the old ones--the new floors are a touch redder, and the planks are a full inch wider.  However, the french bleed edge made a big difference when looking at the floor as a whole, so we went with that option. I'm sure you can see the difference since I am pointing it out, but in person it is a pretty close match.

I was surprised at how much bigger the space feels without the carpet.  I was also mildly surprised at how much the carpet had muffled sound---the downstairs now has a much louder echo effect, even if you are in the kitchen or family room.

I am really happy with how this turned out!  I think it looks fabulous, it was reasonably priced, and I no longer have to vacuum under the dining table.  Laminate flooring FTW!  

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

a living room moodboard, if one has won the lottery

The new floors look fabulous, if I do so say myself.  It was dark by the time the installers were finished, so I didn't get any pictures, but rest assured I will have pictures for tomorrow.

In the meantime, the beautimous new floors have me thinking about a whole new living room design.  (Not happening. But a girl can dream.)  If I win the lottery, here's what I'll buy.  

I am crushing hard on a blue velvet sofa. In the immortal words of Wayne, "oh yes, she WILL be mine."

I love these Peter Dunham fig leaf drapes.  This material is to the trade and outfitting my living room with six panels would cost more than sending my children to college.  I know that Amber Interiors Shoppe used to carry them, although they don't appear to be in stock at the moment.

You can't go wrong with a classic Eames chair.  Or in this case, a knockoff if you don't have five grand burning a hole in your pocket.

I've been window shopping persian rugs for about a year now.  I can tell you that the rugs I like are way, wayyyyyy out of my budget.  For example, a quality wool persian rug in an 11 x 17 size my living room needs runs north of $10,000.  (I have champagne taste.  Sadly, I have a beer budget. But in this scenario I've won the lottery, so let's pretend.)

However, craigslist here consistently has a good selection of persian rugs for decent prices.  (The OC Craigslist consistently has really crappy stuff for crackhead pricing in every other category. I literally clench my teeth and howl when shopping craigslist.  But if you want a cheap persian rug, you are in the right place.)
The persian rug above is from Horchow.  I'll be shopping craigslist.

Last but not least, a Robert Abbey lamp.

If you won the lottery and did some good deeds and fed starving children and gave lots of your winnings to your family and community and favorite charities and there was a bit left over for your favorite wish-list decor element....what would you buy?

I would buy a really awesome vintage sofa and have it reupholstered in a luxurious blue velvet.  She WILL be mine.  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

living room flooring options

The living room floor is currently covered in a super gross ten year old cream-ish-beigey berber carpet.

It doesn't look too bad in the above picture, but I assure you, it is gross.  We had it cleaned before we moved in, but it remains disgusting. (I can't solely blame the previous owners; we have contributed to making it more disgusting.)

We are are going to rip up the gross carpet and put down some sort of hard flooring, like hardwood or tile or anything other than this carpet. One consideration is that in a few years we would like to raise the sunken living room and renovate the kitchen, which will include all the floors downstairs.  This is about seven years away, so we are looking for an interim flooring solution that won't be too expensive or hard to remove when we are ready.

Our other consideration is trying to match the hardwood floors in the other half of the first floor.  When we bought the house, the previous owners gave us the paperwork for the flooring that is currently installed. They put in $18/sq ft hand-scraped hickory with a french bleed edge, which is a distinctive dark black edge around the edge of each plank. This french bleed edge pretty much ensures that no cheap flooring option will match the existing flooring.


This hickory floor is of course now discontinued.  We found similar but not perfect hardwood options, but unfortunately they are also in the $20/ sq ft range, which is not in our budget at the moment.

We considered a few different options.

Option 1:  vinyl planks.
This is a floating floor that looks like hardwood flooring but is actually thin vinyl planks that glue onto each other.

 It is cheap--it is under $2 a square foot and pretty easy to install ourselves. This would be an economical and easy option to put down for a few years, then easily take it up when we are ready to redo the kitchen and floors.

This had the best color match to our existing wood floors, but the lack of a french bleed edge was really noticeable.

Cons: the one big complaint is that it STINKS like chemicals.  Some reviews say it wears off in a month, some say years, some say it stunk so bad they couldn't live with it and had to rip it out.  I have a kid with severe allergies and I find myself rather sensitive to chemical-ish smells.

This option was the front-runner until I came across the smell problem.

Option 2: Polished concrete.
I would LOVE to just roll up the gross carpet and paint the concrete subfloor beneath.  Unfortunately the carpet is heavily glued down. I am reluctant to deal with harsh chemical strippers to remove the glue. Everything I have read on this just makes it sound like a nightmare. Furthermore, the concrete subfloor is very rough and would need to polished or ground down to a smoother surface.  

Having a new concrete floor put down would be essentially skim coating the concrete floor already there. I love the look of polished concrete, its very durable, and it would be a ready subfloor for putting flooring on top of when we redo the kitchen.  While I anticipate a lot of people saying "too cold!", we live in a warm climate that would be just fine year round for a "cold" concrete floor.

Cons: I called five concrete floor installers.  Only one returned my calls, and that one told me they would call me back after looking at their schedule, and never called back.  So I have no idea how much this costs. Obviously I'm not going with this option.

Option 3: laminate click-down flooring
We didn't find any samples that exactly matched our existing flooring, but, we found a few that are close. Its reasonably inexpensive and easy to remove when we are ready to remodel.

We went with the middle sample in the above picture.  It is a bit redder than the existing floor and the plank is an inch wider, but it was the best option out of all the ones we considered.  (That one on the far right looks a bit closer in color in the picture, doesn't it?  In person it did not.)

The floor goes in on Wednesday.

Cross your fingers that it is not glaringly different once installed in a large expanse.  

Monday, November 18, 2013

art for Princess's room

Recently I hung the art that I bought in New Jersey for Princess's room.  The moment I saw this picture I thought it would be perfect for the wall beside her window.

When I bought the art, it was in a nice but rather beat up peach-toned frame.

When I removed the frame in order to make it prettier, it fell apart.  This left me with just the canvas, and it was a cheap canvas with staples on the side.

To cover up the staples, I hot-glued some turquoise grosgrain ribbon around the edge of the frame.  Voila, ready to hang.

I love how this painting looks in the room.  

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Painting All the Things Navy Blue

I'm ready to put up my Christmas tree, but the Mister says I have to wait till after dessert on Thanksgiving.

To be honest, I'm not so much ready for Christmas (not ready!) as I am missing the change of seasons.  Endless summer is disorienting.  Furthermore, I find it hard to dress myself appropriately when it is 54 degrees at school drop-off, 88 degrees at noon, and 62 degrees at dinnertime, which is the weather we had today (and the last few weeks).  Its really a 2-outfit-a-day kind of weather.  Pants and a coat from wake-up till 10 am, get changed into a summer sundress from 10 to 3 pm, then back into warmer clothing for the after school playtime.

Still, I'd rather put up with 2 outfits a day than the 32 degrees that it is currently in Jersey.


I'm getting ready to repaint the kids' upstairs bathroom.  It currently looks like this:

I like the blue color in the abstract, but it is kind of overpoweringly dark in there, and the blue feels topheavy over the beadboard.  My plan is to paint the beadboard navy blue, and the top white.

My dilemma is what to do with the vanity.  Leave it white, or paint it navy as well?


Another painting dilemma: the fireplace.  I plan on painting the fireplace.  I hate the brick.  In a few years the plan is to renovate the fireplace entirely, but for now, a coat of paint.  I've already gotten excited about painting it black, but what if....I painted it navy blue?

I can't find an inspiration picture of this anywhere.

The black is a classic color, goes with anything... but navy blue is pretty fabulous too, and it is all over my downstairs.

Why yes, I am painting All The Things in my house navy blue.  This is the navy blue house.

I just thought about it and realized that there is at least a little bit of navy blue in every single room in the house except the kitchen.


Your thoughts?  Black or navy fireplace? White or navy vanity?  

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Living Room {In Progress}: rearranging

Last week I posted about different furniture arrangements for the living room.   As I keep saying, furniture placement is not one of my many skills.  This weekend I rearranged the living room for the third (fourth? fifth? umpteenth?) time since moving in.  (You can see the previous arrangements in this post.)

As discussed, we moved the larger tv back into the playroom.  This freed up the floor plan to work around the fireplace rather than the tv.

We brought in the lego coffee table and put it under the window.

The kids refer to our formal dining room as "the lego room" and usually have the legos spread from one end to the other of the dining table, so I am giving in gracefully.

I still wanted a tv in this room, though, so we brought the playroom tv back in here and propped it up under the stairs. We have a children's chair and some floor cushions that the kids can use when playing video games or watching tv here.  (I need to order a base for the tv so it will stand up.)

All in all, I'd say this is a successful rearranging.  It is still not the ideal--that tv is in a weird spot, and I have legos everywhere, but its much easier to see legos on a white carpet than a red persian and my feet will thank me--but with each reincarnation we keep inching closer to the best way.

My plans last week had me buying some sort of shelving unit, but I don't think I want any shelves back behind the sofa.  I'm happy to report that this rearranging cost me a sum total of $27 for a longer tv cable.  Hmm, wait, plus $60 for a new tv base.  And technically I bought two new white lampshades for the orange lamps.  But the actual rearranging was only $27.  All furniture is already owned, just put someplace different, and no new furniture necessitated.  I am shopping craigslist for another armchair, but I'm feeling picky and I'm in no rush.

One thing I do love about this room, regardless of how the furniture is arranged, is the fabric panel curtains.  They are so colorful they pull in every single mismatched, leftover decor item I have in these two rooms.  I have green lamps, yellow lamps, blue mirrors, red chairs, turquoise lamps and trays, yellow/green/blue/red pillows...and they all work cohesively because of these curtains.  I wish I could make them into actual curtains--currently they are fabric panels hanging on ring clips--but for now, they are a great choice.

Are you a serial furniture rearranger?  I would prefer not to be, if I could only get the arrangement right the first time.  

Monday, November 11, 2013

Painting fail, sort of

A ways back I said I was inspired by some art I saw at CB2.  I gave it a shot at making my own.  It didn't work out that great. The end result wasn't what I was going for, but it wasn't a total failure.

First I painted the entire canvas with white primer.  Then I cut out a large piece of matting in the cut out shape of California.  Do not do use matting.  Terrible, terrible idea.

I sprayed the cut out shape with adhesive on the back and adhered it to the canvas, then painted another layer of white primer over it.  It curled up in multiple places, so I weighted it down.  This was a really bad idea. Don't do this.

I painted the entire canvas red, including the sides and over the adhered shape.  Then I took the canvas outside and used about 10 different color spraypaints, moving mostly in a circular motion.  I was pretty happy with the colors and movement in the canvas.

Then I was ready for the big climax--removing the shape to reveal the shape in relief underneath!

Except the shape was now solidly adhered to the canvas.  Practically melded as one with the canvas.  All attempts to remove said shape result in peeling layers of mat.  

The attempt to glue the shape layers back down and paint them all white so it gives the impression of a relief failed.  It looks like I glued a big cardboard shape to a canvas. Which I did, accidentally.

Totally frustrated, I put it aside for a while. I came back to it and noticed that the cardboard California was bowed outward. I cut it down the middle with a box cutter and ripped off the cardboard, leaving a shape of California in relief! Yay!

Except all the rough layered edges glued to the canvas were still there. Also, I thought it looked dumb. I took it back outside, sanded it down a bit, but the edges remained.  So I started painting again.

I ended up with this:

Its not the relief painting I was hoping for, but it is a big piece of art with colors I like.  It has a bit of a textural edge to it. I'm kind of digging it.    

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Fourth Bedroom {In Progress}: Round Two is Color

A few months ago I put together a guest bedroom using only stuff we already had on hand.  One commenter noted that it wasn't my usual color explosion.  True--the room was pretty brown, but it was free and functional, so that's what we used, figuring eventually I would save some pennies and come up with a more colorful plan for that room.  (I went through a beige phase in 2008; I have a lot of brown stuff left over.)

In September I visited my family in New Jersey and came across some colorful paintings that I had shipped back to California.  I've decided to put the horse painting in the guest bedroom and use that as my jumping off point.
I was further inspired by a navy blue and green living room that I wrote about last week.

I changed out the bedding, the curtains, and added the horse painting.  Everything else, such as the furniture and lamps, remained the same.

I've loved this blue diamond Nate Berkus bedding from Target since it first came out.  I debated between the orange version and navy, but once I saw that blue and green living room I knew it had to be the navy.  Last week the navy blue curtains were on sale at Target, so that seemed like fate.  The green quilt on the bed was also from Target years ago and was formerly in our master bedroom three houses ago.

I feel like the bed could use a bright, fun decorative pillow of some sort, but I haven't found what I'm looking for yet.  This room feels bright and cheerful (and less brown), so I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

I didn't get this room done in time to join up with the One Room Challenge, but yesterday was the reveal day for all the participants, so I highly recommend you check them all out here.  

Monday, November 4, 2013

Living room furniture arranging

I have yet to come up with a good furniture arrangement in the living room.  I'm laying out some options I've been contemplating.

Our front door opens into a diagonal cut-off foyer that steps down into a sunken living room.  The living room is long and narrow, with charmless and detail-lacking windows that need replacing, a brick fireplace that is off-center, and super gross carpet. (The flooring will be a post in itself for later in the week).

The biggest problem, however, is the furniture layout.  The room is adequately functional at the moment, but the furniture layout is less than optimal.  Essentially, there is nowhere to put a television that does not force you to crane your neck to see it, or have the furniture obstruct the fireplace.  Trying to figure out the best furniture placement for this room has baffled me since the day we moved in.

Currently, the tv is in a corner.  The tv is a bit too large for the corner.

The sofa is about ten feet back.  I would like to move the sofa up a foot or two closer to the tv, but this means that the sofa would be smack in the middle of the fireplace, whereas now it just encroaches upon the fireplace about two feet.

Thus, between the sofa/chair/ottoman grouping and the tv exists a six foot chasm of empty space.  Its not the worst furniture arrangement in the world, but it could certainly be better.

For a while I thought perhaps a sectional sofa would solve these problems, but it doesn't.  I discovered that sectional sofas are enormously large.  Most sectionals have a short arm that measures at least 90 inches, and this means that the short arm would block access to the dining room.  Just for giggles I had the Mister move our family room sofa into the living room and I mashed it against the living room sofa to pretend it was a sectional.  And I tried it in every configuration I could think of.  A sectional just won't fit in this room.  Boo.

I see two solutions here.  In both solutions, the large tv that we currently having the living room would move back to the playroom, and that room would become our tv viewing room.  I know that a while back I said we had pared back to only one tv in the house....but....after a few sleepovers where the adults wanted to watch tv while children were playing video games, and a few instances of three children fighting over whether the limited tv time would be spent watching an episode of Yu Gi Oh Zexal or Strawberry Shortcake, we reinstalled the second tv in the family room.  (Now you know my dirty little secret.)

In solution number one, if I keep a tv in this room, it would stay where it is, but I would get rid of the two Expedits along the window wall, and replace them with two long, low yellow Besta Burs that would run under the window instead of blocking it.  I'd also bring the smaller 32 inch tv that we own, instead of the 42 inch one that is going back to the playroom.

I'd hang our Botero on the left side of the window.  The smaller tv we already own would be on the other side of the window.  I would pull our red chair in front of the Bestas, facing the sofa (not blocking the tv).  This allows for occasional tv watching and video game playing but is not the main viewing room.

(Although I haven't painted it yet, I included a black painted fireplace and a painting over the fireplace in the moodboard.  Painting both the fireplace and the painting will happen in November.  The board also contains our current rug, red chair, sofa and a similar ottoman.)

Problems:  1) those Bestas aren't cheap.  I could achieve the same function with Ikea Vittsjo tv tables or a single layer Expedit on its side, but they would not have the visual impact of the yellow glossy Bestas.
2) would I leave the curtains as is? They would be hanging  behind the furniture (or hemmed to the windowsill).  It feels...I dunno, roman shades would work better in that scenario but new 70 inch custom window treatments are not in the budget.

Solution number two: pull the tv out of the living room completely.  This totally solves all my furniture layout problems, because the furniture is oriented around the fireplace instead of the tv.  I can easily put two sofas facing each other on either side of the fireplace, or a sofa facing two chairs.

In this instance I'd put an Ikea Vittsjo shelving unit painted yellow to the left of the window, and the Botero over a bar cart to the right of the window.  (The wall to the right of the window is seven inches shorter than the other side, so there isn't enough room to do symmetrical Vittsjo units on either side.)

On the bright side, this option costs us only the cost of a Vittsjo shelving unit and a bar cart from craigslist that I haven't found yet.  It is cheap and easy.

Problems: this is sort of a dumb problem, but this means that this room would become a formal space that we never use.  We aren't big entertainers since moving to California, since we can count our friends on one hand.  So...pretty but unused space, seen by people who come to our front door.  We use the garage entrance so we'll never look at it.

Second problem, I'd really like to have a second television. I realize this is a first world problem; feel free to roll your eyes at me.  I think that if I went this route, we would sell our second tv which is 32 inches, and buy a tiny tv that would fit on one of the bottom shelves of the Vittsjo.

Hold on! In searching the Ikea website for other long, low options, I saw this:
I could put the tall shelving to the left of the window and run two of the tv tables under the window, so the unit stretches from one end of the wall to the other, and the smaller tv would go on the far right side of the window.  I'd spray paint the Vittsjo (probably yellow) before putting it in.  This has possibilities and is affordable!  The furniture remains with the sofa on one side of the fireplace, and a chair on the other side of the fireplace facing the tv.

I'm still stuck with the "do I leave the curtains behind the furniture" problem with this option.

Also this house is turning into an Ikea showroom.

Breaking news: the Mister has vetoed the third option.

Your thoughts?