Thursday, September 18, 2014

It gets worse before it gets better

That's kind of a general rule of house projects, right?  It gets worse before it gets better?
Yesterday our house was totally torn apart.  But there is something to be said for nearing the finish line.

We are choosing exterior colors (without great success)

Washing window screens

Painting bathrooms  (painting bathrooms is the worst!)

And in the midst of various wallpaper projects.

Doesn't this stripe look gorgeous in the laundry room?  Well, it might have to come down.  A couple of pieces went up upside down, creating a double stripe in a corner, and I may not be able to get more paper.


All of this means that we have spaces looking like this:

Meanwhile, I have a hacking cough and all over body aches.  The best conditions for inhaling primer fumes.

Back to it!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Another Decision

Thanks for your input over on Facebook yesterday on how to lend polish to the Happy Hallway.  Colorful frames were definitely a hit, and ultimately I think I am going to go for grasscloth AND frames, possibly in a standard ikea color (bright red or high gloss gray) to save myself a huge DIY headache.  We'll see how it looks when the grasscloth arrives.  (I have to say, I have forever and ever wanted grasscloth and have never used it in my own home, so this is a double treat.)

Moving on!

I asked for input on the powder room wallpaper a while back, and many of you liked our favorite: Raphael from Sanderson.

I went ahead and put in the order, only to discover, to my dismay, that the use of a liner is recommended with this paper, which significantly increases the labor cost.

I hemmed and hawed and pulled additional possibilities.

Surprisingly, my husband liked the butterflies (Nina Campbell's Farfalle), and my girls liked the leafy print up top (also a Nina Campbell pick.)

But we put the tree sample back in, and it sort of felt like no comparison.  The trees are magical.

I have written before about how I would rather "get a great deal" than "pay for the perfect thing."  I have said before that it is the lesson I refuse to learn.  Hanging wallpaper is pretty much never cheap, and my husband suggested that if we were going to spend the money to do it, why not spend a little more to get something we really loved?

No decision made, but I am leaning back towards those trees.

What about you: do you splurge on things that are "just right?"  Or are you more one to "make do?"  I think we need a balance of the two, and you know what?

I got a great deal on the grasscloth.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Decision Time

The Happy Hallway needs polish, wouldn't you say?

It's go time.  Do I:

A.  Go for colorful frames, a la Steven Gambrel's now-famous hallway:

or B: Create the effect of a giant bulletin board, hanging grasscloth and trimming it out with ribbon and nailhead, kind of like this

meets this


I have to order the grasscloth today, if I go that route.  I was playing around with a sample I had on hand for someone else, with some vintage trim, just to get the idea.

As for the frames, well, after a search turned up colorful frames only at too-high prices, and quantity will be a problem most places, I realized I would need to pick them up from Ikea and spraypaint them.  There are only 130 or so, so not that big of a deal to paint, load, and hang, right?  (And my husband may not be thrilled about the 130 holes in the wall.....)

Thoughts?  Votes?

One more decision question, coming up next!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Happy Hallway

I have long been tortured by our long, plain, windowless, featureless upstairs hallway.  After "finishing" the space once with unhappy results, I have had MANY ideas for the space, most of which were either prohibitivly expensive, relied on DIY work beyond my ability, or fought desperately with the rooms attached at either end.  I was also trying to avoid the obvious.  It almost did me in.

But then, I had a great conversation with a client who said she is trying to put her resources primarily to things that will make her family happy or improve their relationships and general well being.  A pretty solid plan, but one that too many of us forget to follow.

Lately things have felt a bit heavy.  Like we all are just a little crabby most of the time.  I decided that we all need some lightness, to be reminded of the silly side we all have, so I went through some old photos and printed out the ones that made me smile.  People making crazy faces, being silly, or doing something we don't normally associate with them--like my husband surfing.  I want us all to remember that we have many sides, that we have wonderful people in our lives, and that we are loved.

$12 in photo prints at Walgreens and one hour later, I had this.

All four of my kids' grandparents were here this weekend, and my, oh my, did my girls LOVE to look at these pictures with them!  I do a big photo book each year that tells a chronological and somewhat event-based story of our lives, but this one?  This one is purely emotional, and we all just love it.

To make it easy on myself, I printed the photos in black and white so I didn't have to worry about a color story.  To put them up, I grouped the loose prints by people--each of the girls, the girls together, the girls with parents, with grandparents, great grandparents, etc--then just sort of distributed them on the wall.  It was fun to make some connections between pictures, too, like having someone look out of the frame in one photo at something silly happening in another.

Now, of course, I want it to all feel a little more "finished."  I'll be back with ideas for that!

Tell me: are you a family-photos-in-the-house type?  Or do you just keep them in your phone, like I used to?

Monday, September 8, 2014

More Before and After!

Did you have a good weekend?

My in laws were here, the weather was beautiful, and the mouse on my computer broke, forcing me to disconnect a bit from technology and reconnect with, you know, actual people.  It was lovely.  We also picked up about a zillion paint samples for the exterior, but still no decision.

Last week, I showed you the before and after of a girls' room.  Her parents were the recipients of the surprise makeover back in July.  We needed to tweak one corner, but now I can share!

Before, the space was okay.  A pottery barn bedroom set, a nice, neutral rug, and a family heirloom chair.  But the linens were all the same neutral, the lighting was all a bit traditional, and the walls were bare. The space just lacked a little life, color, and polish.









What do you think?

Happy Monday!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Before and After!

Yesterday I wrapped the final piece or two in a girl's room.  I showed you the early design boards here and gave you a little sneak peek here, but now it's time for a full before and after.

This is what we started with:

We agreed from the outset on blue walls, re-purposing a Queen bed frame that they had in the attic by painting it black, and wallpapering the cove ceiling.  We also kept most of the existing layout as there was really only one wall for the bed.  Generally, we wanted furniture that would grow with this 10 year old, coupled with youthful textiles and accessories.  But there were still many decisions to make!

From the initial three directions, the clients chose this as their favorite:

But we swapped out the crazy pillows and switched to a tufted armchair:

And then, retail happened.

My clients are often surprised by how much goes wrong with retail (as opposed to custom or items that are to the trade.)  Backorders, damaged goods, suddenly discontinued items, bad dyelots, you name it!  

In this project, the initial rug we chose was too blue when it arrived, and those charming chests fell into the sudden discontinuation category.  The upside of retail is that most of it is returnable or exchangeable, and with the new rug and chests (both of which I think are better in the end), we ended up with this:

Which translated into this!

A few more angles:









The room feels much more filled out and finished.  It is sweet, but not too sweet, and it will "grow up" really easily, both to full-on teen and even beyond.

One of these days I will get a real photographer out to capture some of these spaces, and style up bookcases and surfaces while I am at it, but for now, I think you get the idea.

Up next: her parents room.


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