Wednesday, June 1, 2016

pink and blue living room

 Since moving all the red stuff upstairs and all the pink stuff downstairs, I've actually been quite happy with the living room and dining room. I seem to be obsessing over pink lately.

I repainted some of the starburst painting with more pink and blues.  I covered over the more jewel-toned reds and oranges.

The pink lamps that were such a failure in the master bedroom go quite nicely with the painting.

I had no idea it would be so hard to find pink pillows and lamps.  Of the eleventy-million pillows I have tried, I've kept only this Remi pillow from Pottery Barn.

In a fortuitous turn of events, I found these gray ottomans in a local consignment shop. I donated the peeling brown ottomans.

I moved some of the art around.  I also moved the living room furniture around for the bazillionth time.  This arrangement doesn't have a tv in front of the window, there is room to walk around the sofa on both sides, the tv is on a wall, and I kinda think maybe this one is not awful?  It even has room for another armchair to the left of the tv.  I just need to remember that in every house we move to it takes me a year to find a decent furniture arrangement.

The one problem is that there is no overhead lighting in the living room.  It would be nice to have a console behind the sofa to put some lamps on, but it just was too much furniture in the foyer area. That one floor lamp in the corner has to light a 15x10 area with vaulted 20 foot ceilings. We  mostly sit in the dark and refer to the living room as "Il Grotto."

Et voila, I managed to take a small pink refresh of an out of sight bedroom and turn it into the Pink That Ate Half The Downstairs.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Pink pillows

Since moving all the pink stuff into the living room, I've been window shopping for pink pillows for the sofa.  Sadly, it appears that I like really expensive fabrics.  (Not really a surprise.)(Hence the window part of the shopping.)

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12 / 13 / 14 / 15

I recently bought a pair of these pillows from Amazon, but I would not recommend them. The ad on Amazon looks like this:

but the actual pillow cover is a garish neon pink, stamped-on, fuzzy polyester-ish material.  It looks cheap and tacky, and I am returning them.

Of the pillows I am considering in the list above, I really like the otomi-inspired pillow from

However, I am afraid that the zazzle pillow will be another stamped on cheap tacky pillow.

My other favorite is the number 14 Manuel Canovas Voyage en Chine:

I really love this fabric, expensive.  Also, expensive comes with a white back and no piping.  I have looked around, but the cost of getting a patterned back and piping really drives the cost of this pillow through the roof.  Sad face.

I have thought of making my own pillows, as I would really like just a plain pink pillow with a ribbon frame, like so (but not coral):

I can make pillows with an envelope closure, but zippers are beyond my skill set (and I don't own a zipper foot).

I have been looking for weeks for a plain pink pillow where I can just add the ribbon frame, but no dice.  Blush pink is very popular this year, as is coral, but a pinky-pink that is not bubble-gum or covered in butterflies is difficult to find.

Here are some possible combination of pillow (that might work with what I already own):

In the top row, I already own a similar pink houndstooth and the navy chevron.  In the bottom row, I also have the Ikea black and white Lappljung.  (The blue pompom pillow is from Target.)

Seen any beautiful inexpensive pink pillows lately?

Friday, April 22, 2016

the pink living room, in progress

I've been playing decor musical chairs lately.  The red in the living room went upstairs to my master bedroom, and all the pink in that room came downstairs to the living room.  I also rearranged the furniture, for the millionth time.

I've admitted before that furniture layout is just not one of my many talents.

Here's how it looked last, with the tv slightly blocking the window. Not the worst thing ever, but not the best, either.  If we were using this as a formal living room without a tv, as it was intended, it would be really easy to just plop a pair of chairs in front of the window and be done with it.

However, we are using the intended family room space as our dining room (see it here as a family room), so this front room is our living space with a tv.

And here it is, pinkish:

I like that the tv is finally out of the window.   I also like that instead of pink/navy dining room and red/navy living room sharing the same open space, I now have two pink/navy spaces.  It feels very open and spacious.

The only real problem with this setup is that there are no overhead lights in this space, and nowhere for lamps.  I tried the Drexel console behind the sofa, but it was too crowded.  I tried some candlestick lamps on the dresser on either side of the tv, but there wasn't enough space.

If I owned this house I'd install can lights and an overhead fan toot sweet, but, not my house.  Inadequate lighting remains.  

I took down the two large paintings that were on the wall behind the tv, because they have a lot of red in them.  I have an idea for some art that I hope to get to soon.  Although perhaps I should install plug-in sconces on either side of the tv instead?

The pink spraypainted lamps have a new life in the foyer with the pink splatter painting.  However, I need to hide the lamp cords, and fix the wonky harps (and take my phone off the table) before I put a full picture up.  

I frequently go to a local consignment store that is in a large, dark warehouse, and for weeks I have been admiring this pink houndstooth pillow.  I thought it had a nice ombre look to it, fading from light pink at the top to dark pink at the bottom.  I bought it for $12, and when I got home I realized that the "ombre" effect was actually sun damage.  Doh.  

Thursday, April 21, 2016

the formal dining room

Last I shared the formal dining room on the blog, we were using it as a playroom.

Around New Year's, I think, I got into a rearranging frenzy and put the playroom back in the eat-in kitchen area, and made the formal dining room back into a dining room.

Everything in the room we already owned. I've bought very little for this house; I just keep playing musical decor with stuff we already have.

I won't show you the bookshelves head on, as they are unstyled, working shelves that hold books and board games and legos and a bunch of paperwork.

The dining table from our old house has been sitting out in the garage, as it is too big for the eat-in area. The ikat slipper chairs are not dining chairs, per se, and are a little on the low side for dining, but they are comfy.  I usually have my computer set up in here and paperwork everywhere.  

 You've already seen the art in a previous post.

Next post: the sad pink living room.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Problem solved: no more pink

This pink bedroom idea is just not working out. 

It is not the worst, but nor is it very exciting.  

Awkward segue: last week I recovered a lamp shade for the living room.

Since I have been playing musical lamps, the brass lamps were on my nightstand, and I brought the lamp shade upstairs to try it out on the brass lamp.  I thought it looked fabulous, especially on my blue nightstand. 

Amidst my despair over the sad pink bedroom situation, a wonderful thought occurred to me: why not move all the red stuff from the living room upstairs into my bedroom? 

And I did. Like two seconds after the idea popped into my brain.  

Now my bedroom looks like this: 

Don't ask about my living room.  

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Pink lamps: the Impossible Dream one sells pink lamps.  Like, nowhere. (Except the short pink lamps at Target.) When I started down this path I had no idea the difficulty involved in finding a not-lilliputian and not-covered-in-butterflies pink lamp.  Or I would have come up with a different plan.  Beware, all ye who seek pink lamps.  Behold my sorrow and despair.

I don't want to spray paint lamps.  I have done it before (see here, here, here, here, and here) and it is always a pain. I hate spraypainting lamps.  I prefer to avoid this debacle if possible. Plus, I didn't have any lamps that I wanted to cannibalize.

So, I was going to buy some pink lamps--the only non-miniature pink lamps anywhere on the internet under $299 apiece--from Lamps Plus.  They have multiple shades of pink, and depending on the model lamp, they are about $99 to $150 per lamp.  However, just to be sure of the color, I stopped by a Sherwin Williams to check out the paint chips.  My front runner was Coral Reef, which is a very pretty coral on my computer screen:

and very brownish-orange on the chip (although if you google SW Coral Reef many beautiful bright pink rooms come up):

There are other shades, but most of them are Pantone colors.  Apparently until two weeks ago, you could get Pantone paint chips at your local Lowes. But the day I decided to order a lamp in a Pantone color, Lowes got rid of that display.

I decided to hope for the best and get one of the Pantone color lamps, sight unseen.

Then I took three kids to the dentist and got a bill for 12 teeth with sealants, and decided that I would give spraypainting a go after all.

I used my least favorite lamps--a pair of yellow ginger jar lamps, one of which that has a wonky harp that I'm hoping I can fix. I already had primer and pink spraypaint in the garage.  The pink was a pinky-pink with blue undertones, not like the coral in the rug, but it was in my garage and free.  I put on three coats, it came out nice but sort of flat, even though the paint is gloss.

Everything was going so well I decided I would attempt a clear gloss coat, even though my experiences with that in the past have been bad.

Should have listened to experience.

I sanded it down, even though in my experience, once it wrinkles you can either take ALL the paint off, or just get it flat and live with the crackles.

I started again with the primer. It too wrinkled. Sand down, clean off, prime again, lather, rinse, repeat. Four times.

Cookies were eaten. Curses were muttered.

I'm spending a ton of effort and time on lamps that have a crooked harp and that aren't as tall as I'd like them to be. The pink is wrong; everything in the room is coral-ish and this pink is candy-ish. Good advice: stop with these all-wrong lamps and just wait till I can afford new ones.

Does anyone ever take good advice?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

pink Target lamps

The pink Target lamps arrived today. Here they are in my poorly lit bedroom last night:

Even though I knew they were only 23.75 inches, I was kind of hoping they'd look bigger. (I like big lamps and I cannot lie, you other brothers can't deny...)

There's a line of furniture across the top there. The lamp and the painting are at the same height as the headboard, and it just looks....not right.

I like the lamps.  They are cute and dainty.  The color is perfect, I like the brass and glass, they are fabulous.  But I don't think they are right for this room. Perhaps in Princess's room?  Or back at the store. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

pillow shams and peacock mirror

I'm rolling along on the pink bedroom refresh.  I ordered two lamps from Target that a reader kindly brought to my attention.  I also bought two standard floral pillowcases that were on sale for 20% off and I had a $25 off coupon...and then realized I did this ALL WRONG.

I should have gotten three of the floral in euro shams, and then gotten two monogrammed standard pillows (in pink).

Now the pillows are no longer on sale and I wasted my coupon.  If I get three monogrammed euro shams you won't be able to see the monogram since the standard pillows will be in front of them.  ARG.

I saw this mirror this morning and though OH HEY NOW, that would look fabulous hanging over my headboard. I love peacock mirrors, and we have one in the dining room.

Princess saw me looking at it and said "we already have that mirror, why don't you just paint it white?"  (DIY: start 'em young.)  I said, great idea, but I really like the mirror we have the way it is, and I like it so much I'd like a second one in white, and can you imagine the taping off involved?

Sunday afternoon I got an email from Pottery Barn with a 20% coupon in it. Huzzah! My unnecessary redecorating is saved! Before I finished typing the coupon code into my cart, I fumbled my phone and the email disappeared into the ether.  Gone forever.  I somehow accidentally managed to permanently delete a coupon code.

Perhaps the universe is telling me I don't need new pillows. I think I'm going to return the standard shams and see how I feel about the amount of pink when I get the lamps in.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Master bedroom in pink, in progress

My master bedroom has been orange and navy for about a year; that's pretty long in Lisa Land.

When we moved into this rental, I found the rust-colored 10x13 rug on craigslist.  It was the right price and the right size, and I knew I could make it work with stuff I already owned.

Flash forward a year, and I am ready to be done with orange in my bedroom.  I don't hate it (it has a new life in the guest bedroom), but....I want pink.  And that rusty rug isn't matching anything pink.

Large rugs are not in my budget.  How can I rearrange something I already own?

Princess has an 8x10 pink and navy rug...and now it is in my bedroom.  (I moved a 5x8 rug into her room as a replacement.)

Here's the rug in the room, and all the orange pulled out.  It is somewhat boring. Lots of blue. My plan is to add in some pink accents, like lamps and some pillows.

Here is where we get into trouble, as apparently no one sells pink lamps, and I like Really Expensive Pillows.

I've mocked up a mood board with some pink lamps and pillows.

I love love love that stripe fabric. It is a Designer's Guild fabric called Cordellina in Ocean colorway.  You might have seen this fabric in this very popular studio apartment by designer Elizabeth Bauer:

I would love to do a sofa like that. Next house.

I have contacted some etsy sellers about getting a pillow made in the Cordellina fabric.  None of them will do it.  Why? It is to the trade fabric, which is not only expensive (think $200 to $400 a yard, most likely), but also has a 3 yard minimum order (so think $600 to $1200 for a minimum order of fabric, and I only want one bolster pillow. The etsy sellers have told me they cannot move the rest of the fabric, and thus it doesn't make sense for them to order it.)  I've also had my eye on ebay for remnants, but so far no remnant has been big enough for a pillow.

I think I will probably do these pink linen euro shams, and then this floral Pottery Barn standard sham.  And maybe, just maybe, if I can find someone on etsy to make a bolster out of the Cordellina, we shall see.

Every pink lamp that looks nice is either Christopher Spitzmiller or Robert Abbey and extremely expensive.   My current favorite place to look at lamps (which I do on a regular basis) is to shop the Safavieh line at Target, as they come in pairs for a reasonable price.  Unfortunately, Safavieh doesn't put out a pink lamp at all, sadly.

Lamps Plus has a line of lamps that are colormatched to Sherwin Williams colors.  I can't decide on which pink--perhaps I will order the pillow shams and see how they look in person and then order the lamps?\


Thursday, March 10, 2016

on being creative

My blog friend Rita just wrote a thought-provoking post on being creative. (Actually, she wrote it a week ago, but this house has been full of Pestilence and Disease for the past ten days, so I'm just now getting around to writing this.)

I've given a lot of thought lately to what "being creative" means, because it is something I greatly enjoy and yet do not do enough of. I have a lot of the same reasons Rita has.

1) I fear that what I make won't be good enough.

Good enough for who?

I'm not painting in my garage during the ten minutes between dinner and bedtime so I can submit something to the Whitney, or even to sell on Etsy.  I'm painting because I enjoy doing so.

Most of what I create is hanging on the walls of my house.  Not one person has ever walked into my house and said "wow, you hang that crap on your walls?" A few people on the internet have given less than kind feedback, but one could easily avoid this by not posting work on the internet.

Ninety-nine point nine percent of the world can create stuff without other people mocking it.  George W. Bush does have creative talent.  He's no Michaelangelo, but he turns out a decent painting.  Then his mom goes on the Today Show critiquing his portrait of his dad and says "that's my husband?"

Since more than likely you are not a former leader of the free world, you are free to create whatever you like without your mom disparaging it on national television.

2) Making something might take one try, or one hundred and forty-seven tries.

You have to respect the process.

Just like Hemingway's supposed quote on writing, the first draft of anything is shit.  This applies to just about everything I've ever painted.

For years, I would try and do something, and I would hate it, then I would paint over it, and then I would do it again, and it would still suck.  I would put it away, and then maybe a few weeks or months later I'd drag it out and try again.  And then I'd start to feel like I was getting somewhere.  Sometimes I'd finish, be ok with the finished product, and then decide a month later that it wasn't quite done. In fact, I think everything I've ever painted has been "finished" and then redone a month later.

The problem was that I used to look at that process as being evidence of not being good at something.  Now, I'm starting to look at it as part of the process. It takes me weeks or months and eleventymillion tries before I make something I'm proud of.  Some people can turn out something awesome in ten minutes.

I can't make anything quickly. But I can make something I like in a couple of weeks. Respect the process.

3) The more you do, the better you get.

Even if "better" isn't "awesome."

I have been painting on and off for a few years.  But only in the last year do I feel a certain freedom in making bad stuff.  In fact, I'm starting to expect crap on the first go round. Its sort of like Thomas Alva Edison--I've discovered 10,000 ways that don't work.  And, I've discovered a few ways that DO work.  And if I keep going, maybe I'll find something else that works.

Sometimes I get discouraged and think "this is terrible" and I put it away for a while.

The Ira Glass piece is true---you actually have to DO something in order to get better at it. And you will make a ton of terrible stuff before eventually turning out good stuff.

I've been working on painting flowers for a year. I suck at them. They look terrible. I'm not sure why, as flowers are basically circles, but still, I keep plugging onward.  Someday I'll turn out a decent flower.

4) Make it easy to get started.

I don't have a nice art studio.  I don't even have a spot with good light.  I do have a little spot right inside the garage door where I leave everything out, in case inspiration hits.

Something else that keeps me from painting on a consistent basis:  I'm not wearing painting clothes.

Painting occasionally lends itself to the time confetti that is motherhood. I can put a touch here, a touch there in between loading the dishwasher and waiting for the kids.  In fact, most paintings actually require doing a little of this and a little of that and then waiting for it to dry before adding another layer.  But I have managed to get paint on just about all of my nice clothes, so I stopped doing that.

I'm not doing something I really enjoy because I  might ruin my clothes. Clearly I need to get a painting coverall (painting bathrobe? Really big shirt?) and hang it right next to my painting area. (This starts to morph into a "not enough time" problem--changing my clothes acknowledges that I am about to use a large chunk of time doing something creative. Sometimes it is just easier to think, eh, not enough time to do anything today.)

5) Dana at House Tweaking wrote a good review of Elizabeth Gilbert's book Big Magic, which is about being creative.  It sounds like a great read.

How do you push yourself to be creative?

Monday, February 29, 2016

CSA adventures

In December I signed up for a CSA box.  If you haven't heard of CSA, it is Community Supported Agriculture--you sign up to buy a box of vegetables weekly or monthly from your local farmer, and you don't have much of a choice about the contents.  It supports your local farmers, and gives you local, seasonal produce.

There are different choices for a CSA.  I looked around, and narrowed my choices down to two.  First was the local farm a few blocks from my children's school, which is a traditional CSA.  You sign up, you get a little box or a big box, and you get no input whatsoever about what goes in the box. What they grow is what you get.  You can pick up your box at the farm on a designated date every week, or they deliver to a few Whole Food or Sprouts locations, and you pick up from there.

The other choice was a larger, not-so-local West Coast co-op.  The co-op gathers produce from small, local farms (like my local farm down the street), and distributes it all up and down the West Coast.  It has a wide variety of produce, sizes of boxes, and allows you to mix vegetables and fruits, or just vegetables, or just fruits, or veggies one week and fruit the next, or whatever other combo your heart desires.

The large, not-so-local co-op is still mostly organic, seasonal produce; it doesn't offer cherries in January.  Importantly for me, since we have multiple food allergy issues, it allows us to customize our choices, to an extent.  I can refuse any nuts, or limit my selection of foods I don't like.  It also has the advantage of home delivery.

As you  might have guessed, I went with the not-so-local co-op.  Being able to customize the box was important to me. Also, the week I decided I wanted to do a CSA, the small, local farm took a Christmas break for six weeks, meaning that I wouldn't get a box till February if I went with them.

Its been a month of CSA, and here's what I've learned: I'm doing it wrong.

1) Getting a CSA with mixed fruit and veggies has not lowered my grocery bill. I'm not buying less fruits and veggies at the grocery store.  I don't know why.  Getting a CSA has increased my food bill by $33 a week.  We are eating almost all the food, so its not that we are wasting it....but $132 extra dollars a month is a lot.

2) I think "mixed fruit and veggies box" might be part of the problem.  I get two kiwis, two potatoes, two oranges, etc.  I don't mind two kiwis or two oranges to throw in the mix (the fruit always gets eaten), but I can't meal plan around one beet or two potatoes for a family of five.  I think I need to commit to a veggie box or a fruit box.

3) I hadn't thought of this before, but it has come to my attention that in the winter I eat a lot of sauteed greens, like kale/swiss chard/fennel, etc.  In the summer I eat more lettuce in salads.  However, I can't customize the box to give me all the kale in the winter and give me more lettuce in the summer.  I can't keep up with the amount of lettuce that keeps coming. I can eat three bunches of kale in a week, but three heads of lettuce are going to waste.

Actually, technically I CAN customize like this--but it involves paying $33 for the regular box, then removing items I don't want, and paying an additional fee for other stuff I would like.  So I can't swap out for more stuff I like.

4) I can customize the box to an extent--I can check off categories of vegetables I don't want. However, apparently I am a really picky eater, because I have now categorized too many vegetables as off limits, and they cannot fill our box with the available offerings.  So instead of just giving me  more kale or more potatoes or something else already in the box that I DO like, I am being penalized with MORE LETTUCE.  Or more cabbage.  Or more of whatever item I have checked off as "yuck."

5) We have tried many new vegetables. I have discovered that I do not like cabbage in any form. I can eat a small "no thank you" portion if socially necessary of everything delivered so far, but I cannot eat an entire head of bok choy, or four roots of ginger (we are getting more ginger this week, what to do with all this ginger??). I don't mind romanescue cauliflower but I don't actively like it, either.  Why can't I just have more kale??

6) Small (large?) nitpick:  the produce all comes individually wrapped in plastic bags. And then all the individual plastic-ly bagged produce is put into a larger plastic bag, which is then put into a cardboard box for delivery.  For a business that markets itself as so close to the environment, blah blah blah, there's a lot of plastic packaging.

I feel bad about not supporting my local farmer.  I've looked into changing over the local farm now that they are back from break, but....current offerings for the next few weeks include much lettuce and cabbage (obviously, since these are seasonal produce). The local farm also includes some baked goods and jams and chutneys in their boxes, and I don't have the option to leave them out.  Peter can't eat those and we try very hard not to bring forbidden items into the house so as not to contaminate our kitchen prep I don't think we'll be doing the local farm CSA.

I think I will go down to a smaller box, because that will reduce the number of items in the box.  (The medium box gets nine to ten different items, and if they can't fill that because of all my restrictions, perhaps the six item box would be easier with our restrictions?) I also think I need to do either a veggie or a fruit box, or perhaps the fruit one week and veggie the next.

Do you get a CSA?  What do you do with all the cabbage and lettuce?  Do you get a mixed vegetable and fruit, or just vegetables?  Give me your tips on getting the best use out of your csa box, please.  

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

art for the formal dining room

In my New Year's rearranging the whole downstairs, I took the playroom (formerly the formal dining room) and turned it back into a formal dining room.  I'll have a post on this room coming up with furniture in it (I bought two chairs I'm waiting on), but for now, I'll just show you the art I created for the room.

We have tons of unused art in the closet, but nothing we already owned felt right in the spot.  I wanted to make something colorful myself, and I feel that we have more than enough splatter paintings at the moment.

I took a pair of large white Ribba frames that used to hold large photos of the boys, and painted the heavy board in the back.  I thought a pair of ladies would be nice.

Despite being un-religious, I love religious icon art and have a fair amount of it (not currently displayed).  I wanted to do something byzantine-ish. I can't draw a straight line with a ruler, and I have zero sense of perspective and symmetry, so I decided early on that drawing a normal looking face probably wouldn't work for me.  I drew this lady first and intentionally gave her a Picasso-esque out-of-kilter face.  When Princess saw the face, she said "oh, hey, its a Picasso!"  Success, I say.

I am not immune to tinkering, and there is a possibility that Blue Headress lady might a get a pattern on her headdress at some point in the future.

I wanted a pair of ladies, but not identical, or even very similar, so for the second lady I gave her big hair and a closed face.  I kept the backgrounds the same blue to provide some cohesion to the pair.

She originally had some going-to-the-club eyelashes on, but it felt like a caterpillar, so now she's just wearing a demure bit of eyeliner. 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Living room, rearranged again, and some chiang mai dragon pillows

After the new year, I started a frenzy of rearranging. The living room was laid out like so:

When I moved the Tarva chest into the foyer, that left the Drexel console without a home.  I moved it behind the sofa, along with the tall white lamps.

I also moved the Expedit back up to the boys' room. In an ideal world I would not have a television in our front living room window, as it is supposed to be a formal living space.  However, I turned our family room into the dining room, so...yeah, I have a tv in the window. (In a really ideal world I would just get rid of the tv entirely.) I bought a $49 Vittsjo tv unit from Ikea, and moved the tv over the corner. I like that the Vittsjo is smaller and lower, and the tv doesn't block quite so much of the window.

I also took out the coffee table and put it in the garage.  I brought our old ottomans in, since they have a smaller profile.

One thing I love in the living room is the chiang mai dragon pillows I bought with two years of hoarded Etsy gift cards. I have been dreaming of the alabaster colorway with a blue velvet backing for years, but since I have hopes of getting a navy blue sofa eventually, I decided to go with a white and blue ikat back and red piping.  I bought them from Flying Tack on etsy, and I'm thrilled with how they turned out.


Lets be honest, eventually I will own chiang mai dragon pillows in every colorway.  Two colorways down, six to go.

Next up:  I turned the playroom back into a dining room, and made some art to go with it.