Friday, October 29, 2010

not gonna be a hypocrite

So I'm having issues with my powder room.

It's exactly the same as when I moved in.

Oh, sure.  That aqua towel is now watermelon-red.  I don't have a matching rug around the toilet (I find them weird and a little gross) and I got a pretty new soap dispenser that matches the white-and-chrome hardware.  But otherwise - exactly the same as in this picture from the MLS listing.

Kinda embarrassing.

Not in the your-slip-is-showing way, but still. 

My original plan was to paint it navy. Dark navy.  All four walls AND the ceiling.  These were my inspiration photos:

yes, this last one is pink, but it's a good example of color on the ceiling with white molding.  work with me, people

Kinda freaking awesome, right?

But take a look at my powder room again:

Can you imagine what a pain it would be to paint behind the washer/dryer?  And you can't see it from this picture, but the left side of the sink top butts right up to the wall yet the cabinet is about an inch away.  How the heck does one get into that tiny space?  And even if I do conquer that, I don't think this is my Forever Home, which means I would probably want to paint it a neutral color before selling.  And even if that doesn't happen for 5 years, well, I'm not exactly the Home Improvement Queen.  More the Minimal Work Goddess.

The wall over to the right (behind the door) is solid.  No weird appliances or sinks.  Just a toilet paper holder and a square heating element.  Very easy to paint and repaint.  So I had the horrible thought of an accent wall.  How easy would it be to throw some navy paint up there?  I would know it was there, even if the short-term visitor doesn't (ie, the one who doesn't have to visit the loo).  I'd get my dramatic color without the pain of painting around the fixtures.

But if you know me, you know I'm incredibly anti accent walls.  If you don't know me - hi, my name is Debbie and I'm incredibly anti accent walls.  In a few applications, they're awesome.  As a substitute headboard.  Behind the couch in my friend Beth's old apartment (done by her decorator brother).  Beth's apartment was the first time I voluntarily said that an accent wall worked.  So things like that.  But in the average house, the average application, I think it looks like you like color but are scared of having impact.  Of showing your personality in your house.  I'm incredibly anti that.  Even though I'm no longer in love with my turquoise walls and the main reason they're still there is because repainting all 6 wall portions would be a bitch, I'm still very happy that I had the guts to paint all of them.  It makes a statement and that statement is good. 

It also reflects me. I wore large, chunky jewelry before it was in style.  I wear prints on a regular basis.  As hostess to my sister's baby shower, I wore a giraffe print dress.  My laugh can be heard 3 counties away.  I am not a shrinking violet and I like for my house to reflect that.

But back to my powder room.  The wall I would accent would be hidden from initial view.  One would only see it when one is inside with the door closed.  And that makes for a pretty small accent.  I'm not about the hidden view.  I want the big, panoramic view.  So while it would be nice to take the easy way out, to do the accentless accent wall, I'm not going to do it. 

I do still want to make an impact and I still want it to be relatively easy.  And then I remembered Camilia, from High Heeled Foot in the Door, and her grasspaper clothed kitchen ceiling:

And one of my favorite wallpaper-inspiration pictures:

Made me realize that I could totally do that in my powder room.  It might make the ceiling look even lower than it is, but it's such a small space, who cares?  It's not like it being white makes it feel expansive.  It just feels like a small, white box.  I'd rather a small, colorful box.  And I bet my friend Shelly would be happy to help me.  And since it's such a small room, I don't have to worry about the expense.  Very do-able.

Then I'll get a rug for the floor.  Paint (silver leaf?) the mirror.  Hang my great-aunt's hand-lustered plates (they weren't that well done, but they're still pretty) and some other art.  Just cover the walls so one doesn't notice that they're still, as Dorothy Draper would say, dead-white.  I'll just make it work for me.

Sounds kinda cool, right?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I found it! I found it!

 I found my inspiration room!  I can see myself living in this room.  I can see myself entertaining or just hanging out on the couch.  You know, my actual life, not the one I dream about.

And I can see my living room looking this way.  Not exactly.  White walls won't work in my living room - there isn't enough natural light.  But the graphic green curtains, the mix of turquoise and green and brown.  The overall calm of the room.  It's a room that is a good backdrop to the owner's personality.  It lets YOU shine instead of taking the spotlight for itself.

Friday, October 22, 2010

things I need

1. a birdcage or a lantern

Something that's maybe a little rusty or rustic-y to hang from the plant hook in my ceiling in front of the antique quilt.  If you look closely in this picture, you can see the hook.  Or you can just believe me.

BTW - isn't the light hitting the bookcase lovely?  This picture was taken in the morning, maybe around 9am?

I got this idea when looking through a Pottery Barn catalog.  I am not above Pottery Barn and often their accessories are within my price range.

But this birdcage from ebay would be a heck of a lot better - and cheaper.  I just put in a bid, fingers crossed that I win it!  I think the color would be nice in my room, but if it isn't, I could paint it.  Or put it upstairs instead.  Maybe in the spare room in front of the windows?  Or in my bedroom in front of the windows?

My officemate looked at me like I was crazy as I pulled out my tape measure, opened it up to 21" and held it away to try to get a sense of the size of this jammy.  Ha!  He didn't want an explanation and I didn't offer one.  I don't think he'd understand anyway. :)

2. sconces to flank the quilt

I'm thinking something either brass and Federal-ish or kind of rustic to go with the birdcage/lantern.  But right now I have a really ugly and slightly crooked floor lamp, like those halogen lights everyone had (has?) in college, but it's incandscent, not halogen.  Buffet lamps would work but then I'd have to move my electronics to inside the bookcase.

3. something in lavender

I've been seeing bits of lavender all over the place lately, most recently in This Old House magazine.  There's a laundry room with a lavender library ladder.  Of course the picture isn't available online, but it's really freaking awesome.

4. to get back to work

I swear I had more items on this list, but then I forgot them all.  oh well.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

existential crisis mode

My living room bothers me to no end.  If I had all the money in the world, I know exactly how I would decorate it.  Farrow & Ball, Jonathan Adler, Horchow, Madeline Weinrib, 1st Dibs, Rejuvenation.  But I'm on a Salvation Army & Ikea budget.  Which in theory, I don't mind.  I loooove that my orange chair was only $40 and I rescued it from a quiet corner of Salvation Army.  The Ikea bookcase in my spare room is so perfect I can't imagine anything else in its place.  My bed is a dream.  Has held up for over twelve years and the rails are narrow enough that I can hang hangers of clothes to dry, unlike Pottery Barn's version.  Or, you know, onesies for a baby shower banner.

Why spend gobs when I can get something better for less?  And that's more unique to boot?  I like furniture with character, even if it also comes with a few bumps and scrapes.  I grew up with antiques that were only old mostly because no one in my mom's family could ever afford to buy new.

But it takes time to find the diamonds in the rough.  One has to spend just about every weekend looking at the new inventory at thrift stores, whereas I can check what's new at 1st Dibs while on hold here at work.  Love multitasking.  Heck, I don't even like shopping for clothes in person.  Let me check out your selection online and try it on in the comfort of my own home.  Though buying furniture on line is hard.  I fell in love with several couches online from Mitchell Gold and Macy's only to hate them in person.  And it's a heck of a lot harder to return a bureau than a blouse. 

And then, of course, the thrift store finds often need a little TLC once they're home.  Paint, new hardware, new wiring, reupholstering.  Which takes time and I have precious little of that.

It's the reupholstering that has me in existential crisis mode right now.  After taking the pictures for Apartment Therapy and really examining my living room, I've come the to the realization - again - that I need to do something about it.  Rehang my gallery wall.  Get some new curtains.  Put SOMETHING above the little dresser in the entry.  And reupholster the orange chair.

I don't like blue and orange together.  One, it makes me think of Miami.  Not just the Dolphins, but the whole Florida decorating theme of the 80's. 

And then even with shades as strong as mine, I still think of rainbow sherbet.  So even though it's a really hot combination right now, I just can't do it.  It's not me.

But reupholstering the chair means I have to really pick a color scheme.  Really decide on a direction for my living room. 

Do I go with a print?  Get a matching pillow for the wicker chair?  Then I could keep my couch neutral.  But will a pattern be too much of a jolt since this is what one first sees upon entering my house.

Do I go with a solid?  Maybe a taupe-y burlap-y sort of thing to go with the cushion that's currently on the wicker chair.  Then I could either go with a neutral couch OR a patterned one.  I would love a patterned couch.

But then if I want to eventually have a patterned couch, what sort of pattern?  What color?  If I go too brown or too gray with the color for the chair, will that limit me? 

What if I do olive green velvet?  Like a kind of light-medium shade.  I always feel like green is neutral and multiple shades blend nicely together.  And velvet would be so nice and contrast nicely with the linen on the wicker chair.

But then would it be too dark of a shade and block the flow into the room?  I try to be all about the feng shui even if I only vaguely remember the tenets.  But would a lighter shade get dirty too quickly?  Though I don't sit in this chair on a regular basis.  It's more used when I have multiple people over and that doesn't happen often. 

But what if I get a boyfriend and the two of us decide to entertain often?  And what if said boyfriend then becomes a husband and moves in and hates the color of the chair yet we don't have enough money to reupholster again?  Or we move into a new place together and my decorating style doesn't go with the house?

You see where this is going.

And the only way I can talk myself off the ledge is to go all the way back to ground zero, back to doing nothing.  And then I'm fine for a while, until I buy some new pillows.  Or take more pictures of my house.  Or something.  And I'm back in existential crisis mode and spend days at work doing nothing but searching for a new couch, a new pattern that will be PERFECT and solve all of my problems.  But they never are.  Or if they are, they're $1,000/yd.  Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating.  But only a little.

I do think I figured out a solution.  My mom recently had a couch reupholstered and is really happy with the results.  I'm going to pay them a visit and flip through some fabric books, see things in real life.  And finally make a decision instead of having the decisions make themselves. Take control of my life.  Get some courage.

But that didn't stop me from spending half the day online window shopping.  Or planning out a trip to Salvation Army for this Saturday.  Though when I do remember it, I am able to quiet the storm inside me.  At least for a little bit...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I do NOT want to live there

The November issue of House Beautiful arrived last night and that's the first thing that popped into my head when I saw the cover.

I was a little shocked at my reaction.  It's a lovely room, right?  But I actually have a hard time looking at it.  It's not that I don't like cream and light blue - quite the opposite.  This room is just so cold, so devoid of personality.  Then I read more and found out that it was for a show house.  Yeah, I can tell.  A real person doesn't live here.

And when you see the shot without the titles, you see just how empty it is.  It has cool elements - love the lacquered ceiling, love the long pillow in the middle of the couch.  But something huge is missing.  Soul?  Life?  Substance?  And is that white canvas actual art or just a decorator trick?  The blah-ness of the room makes me think it's the latter.

She added taupe lampshades and a red floral centerpiece and in the shot below, the blue chair looks quite cheery, but still - all you see is this dull, boring white.  This flat, personless apartment.

I am not a designer.  I can barely figure out what to do with my own house, much less decorate dozens of houses and show houses.  But I do know that there are such lovely rooms in the world, lovely all-white rooms, lovely all-beige rooms.  And lovely rooms by Phoebe Howard.  I normally really like her designs so am sure she could have done a little more, a little better with this one.  And House Beautiful could have picked a better picture for their cover.  If I didn't have a subscription, I would have left this one on the shelf.

Side note: further into the magazine there was a living room that I ADORE.  Cream couch, blue and green pillows.  I love it so much I'm thinking about framing it just so I keep the inspiration.  But I can't find it online!  I'll keep looking and report back when I find it - or scan my copy.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I can't lie - I'm more than a little hurt that my living room didn't make it to Apartment Therapy's Room For Color contest.  I mean, would you reject this?

Of course not.

One of their FAQs is "I received confirmation that you received my entry, why wasn’t my entry posted?"  I never received a confirmation.  So I'm consoling myself with the thought that maybe they just never received my entry.

Though maybe they were confused that my room looks so green in the above shot and so blue in this one:

But that's how my living room rolls.  It changes color based on the amount of light and the type of light.  Sunlight is different from the lightbulbs that came with the house is different from the lightbulbs I've bought is different from dusk is differnent from morning.  And, of course, flash vs. no flash.  My house is a chameleon.

By the way, these pictures look waaaaay different on my monitor in the office than they did on my laptop at home.  So I kind of have no clue what you're seeing.  This next shot is still in the blue family.

But I'll make it through. 

There are things I'd like to fix anyway, like my coffee table.  I want something with a glass top.  And since I'm probably not recovering the orange chair anytime soon, maybe I just need to add some more orange to the room.  Like a pillow for the wicker chair.  I want a new one anyway.

I also need to dress my entryway a little more.

So I'll make the changes and take new pictures and be ready for next year's contest.  I'll enter right away and will make sure I do it correctly and I'm sure I'll be selected.  And win, of course.  I don't even know what the prize is.  I just want the world to love my colorful living room.

That, you know, I want to repaint.  But we'll keep that a secret.

And check out my lamp!  The best thing that came out of this contest - I finally go around to fixing the lamp.  I had to glue the socket a little more and I added some lime green ribbon to the shade, which makes it look SO much better.  The brown trim just yelled out "70's!"  In a bad way.  Now it's all fresh and pretty.  The glue I used shows through the ribbon so I do need to fix it, but I'm not worried.  I have lots of ribbon leftover.

Enjoy the pictures and get ready to vote for me - next year. 
In the meantime, vote for your favorite rooms here.  But don't vote for this one.  It's too close to my living room.  Yeah, I'm bitter.  Whatevs.  I've accepted it.  I do think my favorite is this bathroom.  That green!  I love it.  I also rather love this purple living room.  I think it best reflects the spirit of this contest.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

total convert

Check out the status of my closet
Notice anything different?  Like space on the bar?  Part of this is because my winter wardrobe is smaller than my summer wardrobe, but a good chunk is due to my new hangers!

I'm sure you all have heard of Huggable Hangers.  If not, they're very slim and velvet wrapped to keep clothes .  A lot of hangers are thick so clothes will stay on better, but then they take up all this extra space in your closet.

My sister used to work at Express and I inherited a lot of their hangers.  Other hangers came when I ordered stuff online and it came hung up.  Some of these hangers have rubber grippers on the ends that really help keep clothes on the hangers.  Then they have notches for tanks and camisoles.  Fabulous.  But then for Christmas a few years ago, my mom asked for some Huggable Hangers.  And I started mulling over the idea of getting some for myself.  My current hangers worked pretty well, but my closet often ends up squished and jammed. 

Then I saw some faux-Huggables at Marshall's.  20 for $12.99.  I bought a pack and used them in my spare bedroom closet for my out-of-season clothes.  I fit so many in!  The next time I was at Marshall's, I bought another pack, this time for my closet and the other night I started hanging thing up with them.

Check it out - three of my old hangers (my measuring tape was downstairs)

And in these pictures, you can see that in the same space, I can fit four, almost five of the new hangers!

How fabulous is this!  I need maybe one or two more packs before I can safely get rid of all of my old hangers.  I can't wait!