Project Basement Has Begun!

We picked our contractor, we signed our contract, permits are being pulled and things are moving forward. 
I am so excited I had to stop myself from buying bins at Target this morning. Yes, the project has not even begun and I’m already organizing and decorating it. Welcome to my life! The whole project should take about five weeks, which means in a little over a month we will have a family room downstairs. We can have people over and not have the kids playing on top of us. We will have a separate laundry room which means there won’t be piles of laundry on the floor of the mudroom to greet me when I walk in the door. There will be closets! Three in total. One for toys (that’s where the plastic bins come in), one for the pantry, and one for me. Right now the pantry is a wire shelf in the basement. This will be a full blown closet. The closet for me is exactly that. All my project stuff. Fabric, sewing machine, staple gun, future projects, all mine. 

Here is the floor plan now.

The biggest change is the egress door. We will no longer have a big huge window in the front of the basement for emergency access. Since there is no bedroom down there we don’t have to have that egress. We did decide to put a bulkhead door in the storage area so we can still move big things in and out. This is the first thing they will start on down there which also means they will be bringing all the materials in and out through there and not through the rest of the house. 
There is going to be so much to share. The building process, the decision we’ve made so far, the rooms themselves. Then comes the fun stuff. The finishing, the decorating, the organizing. I’m absolutely giddy!

This closet is getting clothing.

My boys closet got stripped of it doors a while back to make room for the Ikea Expedit I put inside. I haven’t regretted this move one bit. It has freed up the rest of the room to fit in two twin beds as well as plenty of play space. It stays organized and all those bins hold clothes and some toys. The books aren’t organized by size or color, although I did try it once. It stayed that way for about 20 minutes. 
All in all it works great, except for the top. I can’t take the bar down which holds the clothes on either side. Seeing everything stored on the top shelf of the closet does not make me happy. I’d put more “stuff” but then I’d see that too, so I’m limiting my storage capability. I’ve been looking for a way to cover all that up, as well as the perfect fabric to do it with. Here is what I ordered. 

The plan is to make a valance on rings that is mounted on the inside of the closet. The bottom of the valance will hit the top of the Expedit. Curtains across the entire closet was another option. I vetoed that one for a couple reason. First of all I want the boys to be able to get to their clothes, books and toys easily. Second, I want to be able to access the sides of the closets. I have hooks in there where they hang their pajamas, and “previously worn but not yet dirty” clothing. 


The third reason for not putting panels across the entire closet is the fact that over the weekend my boys pulled down the curtains in the dining room. The 3 brackets snapped all at once. What I thought were metal brackets were actually plastic wrapped in foil! Ahhhh, life with boys!
So keep tuned, a new tutorial is coming up!!

Unusual accents – Part One

I have a strange way of shopping for accent pieces for my home. Any normal person would head to the kitchen department when looking for something to hold their kitchen sponges. Where do I end up? The garden section,  of course, with a porcelain flower pot.

A search for some sort of container for my laundry room led me to the children’s section of Home Gods. I was looking for something to hold the random sock that was waiting to find its partner and I ended up with a child’s pail for the beach. Mind you this was not any pail. It is enamelled metal in a beautiful shade of blue complete with a wooden handle.
My fireplace  needed some filler. We had not used it yet and it only had the grate in it with no fireplace screen. I took the grate out and added a wooden piece I got for $15 at an antique shop. I had added some candles to it and it fits perfectly in that space, at least until we pick out a screen and actually use it.
My children’s bathroom had the ugly old towel holders which didn’t work for me. I removed the plastic bar, the ceramic brackets are still there, and searched for an alternative. At my favorite antique store, Wiltsie Bridge Country Store, I found some coat hangers. This is also where I got the wooden piece above. The individual hooks move around and can adjust into different slots. They were both slightly broken so I got them for $3 each! They are cast iron and when secured to a stud, they hold a lot of towels, not coats.

As I look around my house I realize this is my favorite way of accessorizing. I like having something quirky that one wouldn’t expect. They are also original pieces and ideas, so no one else has them. That has to be my favorite part. I have a lot more examples to share but I thought I’d start you off with these ones. More to come!

{recycled} crib drawer

As I sat on my sons floor taking the crib apart the other day I had an idea. They needed some more toy storage and sitting in front of me was this huge drawer from the bottom of the crib. The boys have identical beds except that one already has built in drawers underneath. The other one would be empty underneath. Some simple casters and a coat of paint would make it a functional toy bin that would roll out of sight. 
I had 4 small pieces of wood cut 4 inches square. I held these underneath the drawer in each corner and screwed them on from the inside, 4 screws each. The bottom of the drawer is very thin so I need these to be able to screw the casters into.

At this point the plans changed. After doing some research on painting press board, I decided against it. This is a drawer that is going to be rolled around and roughed up. After a month it would have looked pretty beat up. I could have left it the way it was but I had some leftover fabric from the pelmet boxes and as you already know, I love fabric. I got out my upholstery stapler and started cutting, folding and stapling. I cut separate strips that would cover each side of the drawer with enough extra on the top and bottom to staple, about 4 extra inches total. I attached the fabric before the casters so that I wouldn’t be dealing with a rolling object at the same time as a staple gun. Not a pretty image.

When all the fabric was on it was time to screw on the casters. I had found some small ones that rotated at my hardware store. I turned the drawer over and screwed these into the pieces of wood.

That was it. My trusty helpers had it filled up with toys before I had all my tools put away. The drawer fits perfectly under the bed and rolls in and out very smoothly. It came out better that I expected and my nine year old even congratulated me for recycling.

Is your crib headed for retirement? Do you need more storage? With the right fabric or paint job it can even go under a larger bed to hold shoes, sheets, towels, extra pillows. How about putting it under your sofa in the playroom. I could go on and on. What could you use it for?

Window treatments for a bay window.

My living room has one large window. It is a beautiful window with multiple panes of glass. It floods the light into my living room the entire day.

There are some problems though.

1. It is huge. 
2. It is a bay window. 
3. The bay incorporates the floor but not the ceiling. 
4. There were no quick fixes or ideas anywhere that I was happy with!!!

I wanted a couple things from whatever treatment I was going to put there.

1. I wanted privacy treatment at night that wasn’t visible during the day
2. I wanted semi-privacy during the day with light coming through
3. I wanted it to be pretty

I tried to figure out all the different ways I could outfit this window. The only options I could think of was to use a curtain on the wall but then I wouldn’t be able to put furniture up against the window. When the curtains were closed I’d loose all that floor space. It would also overwhelm the room. I thought to also just cover each window separately with blinds or Roman shades. Both these options were pretty pricey. Did I mention the bay window is twelve feet wide? That’s a lot of fabric and work.
So I decided to get exactly what I needed by coming up with my own solution. Layers. For my privacy at night that wasn’t visible requirement I went with Levolor Cellular blinds. I had to custom order the one for the middle window since the size was so big. The two smaller window blinds I was able to find in the store. They fit perfectly inside each window frame and when pushed up (no cords involved) they blend right in and disappear. Step one complete! I had privacy at night.
Step two required some sheers for day privacy, since this window faces my front yard. It took some figuring out on my part and some shopping in my basement. I found bay window curtain rod connectors at Bed Bath and Beyond and matched them up with 3 separate rods, two smaller sized and one larger one. 

I screwed the connectors where the finials would go and mounted the entire piece with a total of four brackets. I used 6 panels of sheer curtains I already had from my old house and hung it up. I now had semi privacy during the day with light coming through.

My last layer was for me and me alone. The first two layers were for convenience and privacy. The next one was to make it look pretty. Emphasis on the pretty! I splurged a bit and bought a huge heavy curtain rod from Pottery Barn. Then I found some simple curtain panels from Country Curtains which I loved. Then were a beautiful cream fabric with texture. I didn’t want the curtains to overwhelm the room. They are not functional since they aren’t wide enough to cover the twelve foot bay window. They are long and billow onto the floor. Pretty.

So my search was done and I’d solved all three of my problems. I didn’t lose any space in my living room. My sofa fits nicely in the bay area. It also does a great job of hiding boxes of Lego’s, dinosaurs, cars and stuffed animals!

How to apply your inspiration photo

About three years ago I came across an image on Design Sponge of a boys bedroom. It became my inspiration for my boys room which I showed you yesterday. 

Design Sponge
I fell in love with the combination of the gray-blue walls and the red accents. I loved the clean uncluttered look of it. It was simple and functional. Obviously meant to be a child’s bedroom, it could easily be updated to fit any age. It wasn’t even very gender specific. It you took out the wooden bike and some of the truck toys, replacing them with a doll, this could be a girls room. This image sat in my mental file for a while since there was no Pinterest then. 
So how did I apply this to my boys room now? I took the basic elements, the wall color, the red accent color and incorporated them throughout the room. I kept the clean look of the walls and only put up a couple statement pieces. I put simple pelmet boxes above the window. Roll down shades hide underneath them, only visible at night. 
The bedding in the room is part of the red accent feature. I found the simple duvet at Land of Nod. Nothing too busy or overwhelming. I’ve added pillows and shams that either I’ve found at Home Goods or made myself. The rug I found was not a flokati like the one in the inspiration shot. I grew up with those and they are too dusty for me. I found a simple round rug at Home Goods again. 
Do you have an inspiration photo you love and are not sure how to apply it? What is it about the image that really makes you love it? Is it the colors, the feel of the space, the style of the furniture? Maybe you just love the light hanging from the ceiling. Take what jumps out at you and follow that. Like I said, I basically followed the color scheme and clean feel of the room. I didn’t get a red bed, but I used the red influence throughout the room. The inspiration had a mix of modern and vintage styles. I copied that mix of styles. My boys beds are contemporary, the Expedit is modern, the pieces on the wall are vintage or antique. See, mix it up.
Here are the two rooms next to each other. How did I do?

My boys room

My two boys, ages five and two, share a bedroom. It is a wild and crazy room activity-wise. The decor is a little calmer to balance all that out! 

I love the blue of the walls. It is Benjamin Moore Beacon Gray. Not gray at all. It is a very soothing blue. Not childish which was what I was looking for. I wanted something long-term that they could grow up with. I made Pelmet Boxes on their two windows with this Waverly Fabric, Parterre Lacquer. 

The accents of deep red go so well with the tone of the walls. The furniture is all oak, except for the Expedit. If you are wondering where I got the furniture, you are out of luck. My father had a furniture company years ago and most of the furniture in my house was made by him. When we got married 15 years ago we only had to buy a sofa! My dad made everything else. 
To gain some more space I took the sliding doors off their closet, which is huge, and was able to fit the Expedit inside. Boys don’t need too much hanging space. I probably wouldn’t have done this if it was two girls sharing a room. The closet is wide enough inside that I can hang their “good” clothes on either side of the Expedit. The drawers in the Expedit hold their clothing, along with toys and books. They also have a dresser for clothing. 

Lighting was an issue in the room. There is no overhead lighting so I purchase this wall mounted plug- in from Pottery Barn. It turns on with the switch by the door. I wanted something up high so no one could get to it!
Their room does not have a specific “theme.” I’m not the type. It is definitely a boys room, with random pieces I’ve found in antique stores, my mothers linen closet, or outside. I’ll explain. First up are the barn stars. I got these very heavy pieces for about $5 dollars each. I hung them up with these huge nail which I painted black to blend in. 
This piece of fabric was in my mothers collection of linens. I remember it from when I was little. I mounted it on foam core and added some nail head trim. It is lightweight and had only been pulled down once. The best part is that it has all the colors in the room in it!
I unscrewed these two signs from a fence on my in-laws’ property. It used to be a bird sanctuary and these were the “No Parking” signs. My in-laws must have all thought I was nuts. I cleaned the years of moss and grime off them and used watered down white paint to get rid of the words. I then used some wall decals from Target to add my boys names. You get a jelly bean if you can tell me what language that is. We speak it here at home.

The other piece in their room which I love is part of an old crate. It has two boy on it as well as the name of my hometown. One of the little boys also looks like a picture we have of my father in-law from when he was a little boy. All very sentimental coincidences. Too much to not pass this piece up for a whole whopping $7.

This room still has a couple projects ahead for it. I’m on the search for some fabric to match the Waverly fabric. I want to hide the top shelf in the closet somehow. I’ll let you know when that gets accomplished. Any suggestions for fabric would be greatly appreciated. I’m working on a toy storage solution which I’ll let you know about soon. Again it is something anyone can do. The other big change for the room is easier to explain with a visual…..

That’s right, someones getting a big boy bed!! I’ll keep you posted.

You can find me at…
Thrifty Decor Chic

The story of my mantle

Our home has a good sized living room. It has a huge bay window in the front and great flow from both the foyer and dining room. It is a long room with a fireplace at one end of it. My sofa is situated in front of the window, and the unit with our television is directly across from it. When we first moved in there was only one problem. Above our fireplace, which has traditional woodwork and molding, was a huge mirror.

The game plan was to remove the mirror. It was held up by four huge clips, the definition of eye sore,  and had been sitting there for at least 50 years. I’m not kidding. I knew it was going to take some work to get down. It was not only held in place by the clips, it was stuck into the plaster of our walls. Big messy job.
 I decided to start searching the internet instead. I came up with some samples of homes with mirrors installed over their fireplaces. I liked the look. This is actually my first home with a fireplace and mantle. I never liked the idea of hanging a random picture or piece of artwork over the fireplace. A mirror to me is very generic and hard to get tired of. 
I did some sketches for our contractor, took a trip with him to Home Depot to pick out molding, and pieced it together. The mantle itself was cut across the top so that the new molding would sit flush. It was built up to surround the mirror and mimic the fireplace below.

It was framed out so it actually looks like it is original to the house. Stopping it just short of the ceiling meant we didn’t have to cut into the crown molding.
It was a simple solution to what could have been a messy project. I’m glad I held off and didn’t listen to all the opinions around me telling me to just rip it off. These “opinions” came back later to tell me it looked good anyway.
Are there decisions you’ve made by going with your gut feeling? 

Wall to wall window treatments

Two years ago I was reading my latest issue of Renovation Style and came across this picture.

I loved those curtains. It’s hard to see from this picture I took, but the curtain runs from side wall to side wall instead of mounted above the window. I knew I was going to do this somewhere, at some point, somehow. Once we moved into our house I knew this would be perfect in my dining room. Here is what the dining room looked like before we moved in.
Builders’ beige, not my choice of lighting, but great bones! I started searching online figuring it would be easy to find something. The closest I got was a shower flange for shower curtains. Nothing decorative for windows. I visited Home Depot and bought a couple different ones. They were all either plastic with a stainless steel looking foil finish, or actual stainless steel. I realized the heavier the better since my dining room is 13 feet wide. 
I finally settled on one and along with my trusty bottle of spray paint I got busy. I used a flange like the following one, along with Krylon spray paint in oil rubbed bronze, to match my new lighting.
These days the flanges come in all different styles and finishes, easily found at a hardware store. Three coats of spray and I was happy. I mounted them to the side walls. They didn’t have to be on a stud because the flanges are purely decorative. The brackets would be holding up the weight of the curtain rod and curtains.
I purchased a normal curtain rod and removed the finials. I then placed three brackets evenly along the wall. Only one is visible in the center of the window. Then I used three panels of curtains on each side. Yes, you read that right. As luck had it, my previous house had six windows in the living room/dining room. So I have a lot of curtain panels to use up. When placed all together, they hide the secret bracket and look like one piece. 

The combined panels flow all the way to the wall and make the window seem even larger. It is also a favorite hide and seek spot for my kids. Very hard to find them back there!
Take a look at the before and after. What do you think?

Testing your design style

The other day I got an email from Better Homes and Gardens asking me to take a quiz to help me figure out what my design style is. I figured it couldn’t hurt. So I answered the questions and was told my style was polished casual. 
Better Homes and Gardens
They described it as follows. 

You love to mix and match your favorites from several styles, so Polished Casual is the best way to describe your look. Crisp, fresh, and always comfortable, this approach anchors itself in neutral, subtle hues and furniture that isn’t fussy but isn’t slouchy either. Pair your clean-lined sofa with a dark leather wing chair or a weathered metal table—anything goes, but simplicity is key.

Not bad. That sounds like me. I like neutrals, subtle colors as accents, comfy furniture that looks nice. The weathered metal table even sound like my love for Industrial Chic looks. Pretty good quiz.

This got me thinking. There must be more quizzes out there. What else could they tell me about my style. I did some searching and found a couple I thought I’d share with you.

First up is I was told my style is Nantucket Style.


Oh how you love the beach! Who doesn’t, right? And so your dream home is either perched in your favorite beach town, or you’ve brought that favorite beach town into your house.

Your art and accessories speak directly to the activities that are found at the beach. Pieces of driftwood you found here, pictures or paintings of the amazing views there. Things that remind you of the coast – surf boards or fishing boats – are found throughout the house. The feeling of the seaside is both abstract and literal in the design of your space. The fabrics are natural, cottons and linens and are light in color and touch. Much of the furniture is wood or wood framed (the lighter the better, think driftwood!) and wicker, when done right, is a must.
And since your true inspiration is the sea, the colors and textures in your home are the same that you would find at your favorite beach: white, light beige’s and grays of the sand and driftwood, a variety of blues for the ocean and sky, and greens and vibrant blues of the sea glass… but the key is white! Your space should feel light and airy and give off the mood one has when at the beach: laid back!
Space Planning
Your furniture is comfortable and the layout is cozy. The more it reminds you of actually sitting on the warm sand the better! And what do you do at the beach? Hang out with family and friends – and your home is just an extension of this play place… and though the space is filled with large white furniture, it somehow manages to feel both durable and casual.

This one was pretty detailed and they got a couple things right. I love the beach. I think I always have to be near the ocean. I’m not sure how well I’d do in an area of the country that was landlocked. That has nothing to do with how I design my house though. I might do a bathroom or laundry room in a beachy style, blues, whites, neutrals, seashells, but not a main space. 

I don’t have a surf board for my living room coffee table and there is no boat hanging above my children’s beds. I do have natural fabrics and colors. I do have  a lot of wood furniture, but it mostly dark cherry. Wicker is something I’d only do on a porch or sun room.

I love whites, beige’s, grays, blues, and some greens. They got that part right. The laid back feel is key, but as look as it looks good! I do like my space to feel cozy. My living room coffee table is full of Rescue Heroes and Lego’s at the moment, not driftwood and sea glass.

I then went to and took their style quiz. According to them I’m a Bohemian Classic.

You have a refined sensibility and bring a sense of history and tradition into your decor. You appreciate how symmetrical arrangements and beautiful, well-crafted pieces create a solid foundation to a room. But you like to shake up this restraint with objects and accessories that express your personality and your love of other cultures. When traveling, you seek out unique objects that reflect what you love, and you use them in a sophisticated way. You want people to feel comfortable in your home, and cozy chairs, ethnic fabrics, unique pieces, and even a little touch of quirk or humor give your house a laid-back, Bohemian flair.
You value creativity. You are stylish and fun loving, and can be an inspiration to others. You have a natural sense of drama, and you know you have to be willing to take risks—whether with colors, finishes, furniture choices, or ideas—for your home to stand out. Your home can be happy and lively and the place all of your friends want to be.
Don’t forget that color looks best when paired with some neutrals for a little visual relief. If you go wild on the walls or with your upholstery, pull back a little on the rugs or curtains or vice versa. Each room can definitely have its own color palette, but think of your home as a whole, with each room transitioning to the next. Some tricks: go for fairly neutral hues in hallways, or add some colors from one room into the neighboring room, even in the form of accessories or fabrics.
They got a lot of things right in their analysis as well. I like mixing things up. I have a lot of traditional pieces, but some quirky, contemporary and modern ones as well. I love having a solid and beautiful piece like a sofa as the foundation for a room. If I traveled, I’d have more pieces. I do have a couple, just nothing huge that stands out. I do want people to feel comfortable, I have some ethnic pieces and  little touch of quirk mixed in there for good measure.
I do value creativity and hope to inspire others. That’s what this blog is all about! I’m not very dramatic and don’t take risks with color anymore. I have another post all about that. I do have ideas that aren’t in any home, so maybe that’s where my drama is. I do keep one aspect neutral, my base pieces, and install color in my accents. I think my house does flow well. They also got my color choices. Here is what they sent me.

Home Goods

According to Home Goods these are my happy home colors. Pretty close except for the brown, unless you are including furniture. All in all not a bad result. They even give some tips on how to make your style work for you. 
Moving on we have Stylish’s stylemaker quiz. The results I got from them was that I resemble a “Bespoke Classic. 
Graceful living in a well appointed home. To cook a grand meal in an elegant kitchen is your joy. Hibiscus and an Ocean Breeze while you sleep. Like the painter’s brush, your composition is done in living color. A sense of rolling hills and vineyards surround this table. Your 3rd coffee and just beginning to be productive. Pre-war, upper east side attitude. At the end of the day… you don’t take things too seriously..

Suspected “Bespoke Classic”
– Princess Diana
– Fred Astaire
– Ralph Lauren
Whaaat? Cooking a grand meal in my kitchen is not my joy. Ask my husband. I do like an elegant kitchen though. Hibiscus and an Ocean Breeze while I sleep? It snowed the other day and I don’t like those artificial air fresheners. So my composition is done in living color. That makes a little sense. Blues, neutrals, whites. A sense of rolling hills and vineyards surround this table. What table, where, in Napa Valley? I live on the east coast. I get the part about the third coffee but what does that have to do with how I style my house? Pre-war, upper east side attitude. Sounds like I live in Manhattan and have a maid and butler. Then they tell me that at the end of the day I don’t take things too seriously. Well of course not, I have a maid and butler to do that for me. Then I’m compared with Princess Diana, Fred Astaire and Ralph Lauren. I have some towels from Ralph Lauren. That’s about it.

As you can tell this was just strange and confusing. Too much reading between the lines. I just wanted to know what my style is, not that I live in a vineyard and have a full staff waiting on my every want and need.

I didn’t want my search to end on this note so I turned to I was told I’m a Traditionalist. 

You tend to gravitate toward the traditional. You make sensible design choices when it comes to pattern and materials, but not boring ones. You like things that are not only timeless in style but also long-lasting. You’re smart.

That sound about right. Not too much detail. Plus they said I’m smart!

My last stop was at Real Simple. Their results said my style was a tie between Cozy Casual and Vintage Eclectic. 

Cozy Casual
You’re about comfort and warmth, favoring warm, traditional rooms made for relaxing with family and friends. Your ideal decor draws on English and early-American furniture designs, as well as laid-back country, cottage, and farmhouse styles. Weathered, low-maintenance furnishings are easy, inviting, and built for daily life. Think golden retrievers, fuzzy slippers, and just about any movie by Nancy Meyers. 

Vintage Eclectic

You go for history, quirks, and curves. A rich, layered look combining flea-market finds, furniture designs from various time periods, and a diverse collection of accessories and artwork appeals to you. Dusty colors, timeworn or handmade textiles, and collected objects create a lived-in feel. Think Paris flea markets, Granny’s teacups, the film Grey Gardens. 

I think I’m more Vintage Eclectic, except for the fuzzy slippers from Cozy Casual. I do like mixing things up.

So what is your style. Which quiz got it right for you. How can you apply what you discovered about yourself today to your house and lifestyle. Maybe this helped you figure out what accessories you want to focus on. Many it said you were a person who likes a little bit of everything, new and old. Go search at some antique stores. Not the kind that break the bank. I’ll be showing you some of my finds that I didn’t pay more than $15 for that I’ve added to rooms like the living room, bedrooms, bathrooms. 

Go take some quizzes and learn something new about your style.