Finding an idea where you least expect it

I get ideas from almost anything. Catalogs, magazines, blogs, Pinterest, and HGTV to name a few. Sometimes I see a room or an idea and it gets me thinking. I’ve even gotten an idea from a childrens’ book once. A while back I was watching “Modern Family” and found that instead of laughing, I was paying attention to the wall in Phil and Claire Dunphy’s kitchen.

Hooked on Houses
Hooked on Houses

I came to a couple conclusions. I like plates. I like pretty plates. I like pretty plates on walls. I wanted pretty plates on the wall in my kitchen. I had the perfect spot near my kitchen table. I didn’t want an overwhelming number of plates, just a couple well placed ones that would add color and texture to my space. I hunted at my usual places and found these three from HomeGoods, Pier One and Target. 

I also made my own bulletin board there which ties it all together. I’ll be showing you how to do that another day. This wall is a great accent in the kitchen and can be easily changed if I happen to find another new plate that I love. I paid about $3 each for these ones. 

So you never know where you’ll find an idea. Keep your eyes open and you’ll see something you’ll love. Do you have an idea already and want help tailoring it to your space or budget? Let me know and I’ll be happy to help! 

How I painted over wood panelling and lived to tell about it

We live in a multilevel home and our designated playroom is six steps down from our main level. It’s a great space for the kids toys, the piano, our sleeper sofa, and the resident hamster. I had plans to put two IKEA Expedit’s next to each other. The toys would stay down there. I would never step on a Lego in the middle of the night in my living room. No stray stuffed animals would migrate up those stairs. These were all great plans except for one thing. When we moved in my playroom looked like this.

My kids were terrified. The grain of the wood was so large and dark. I was told by by my five year old that he saw faces. Slightly concerned, all I could think of was the movie “The Sixth Sense”. I asked him to show me what he meant. Up close the knots in the wood looked like faces. He wasn’t kidding. 

Pretend you are a five year old. Intimidating, right? We decided they were seals, frolicking through the waves, all cute and well intentioned. This didn’t work. 

So I took a deep breath, knowing the opposition I was going to have to deal with. I had a couple men I had to explain myself to as to why in the world I was doing this. My husband, my father, my general contractor, and any other man who thought dark panelling was the best thing since sliced bread!

Long story short, we painted. I chose a beautiful warm white from Benjamin Moore, called Mascarpone.


The difference was incredible! We also put down the Allure TrafficMaster vinyl plank flooring. We didn’t want anything too permanent and we wanted to keep the cost down. I ended up loving it so much I’m putting it in my basement once we finish it. At $1.79/square foot you can’t go wrong. Everyone ends up thinking it is wood anyway. They never believe me and end up bending over to touch it, just in case I’m lying.

So this is what our family room looks like now.

This area will see some changes in the months to come since once we finish the basement, it will become the office/guest room. We will be walling it off and giving it its’ very own door. I’m hoping to build a walk in closet as well for all those winter coats we New Englanders collect. 

For now it is a warm and inviting space. It holds all our toys in those two Expedits, which I personally think are a staple in any house with young children. I have five of them. Expedits, not children. It cleans up great and looks organized most of the time. Plus, my children actually go down there to play!

Breathing new life into your bookcase

When I was putting together my daughters’ nursery almost 9 years ago, I purchased the Cameron bookcase from Pottery Barn. 
Pottery Barn Cameron 3-shelf bookcase

It held all her books, picture frames and extras. On some days it was even a dollhouse. When we moved into our new house she changed furniture to my old bedroom set from when I was little. She didn’t have the need for the bookcase anymore, so into the basement it went. 

I had a table for my foyer which just wasn’t making the cut in the new foyer. The only place for the table was on the wall near the door. This meant that when the front door swung open, it would bang into the table. No big deal except the tabletop has a iron frame with a separate glass top. Not a good idea in my house!

So I shopped my house to look for an option. I wanted something there to cozy up the foyer. I brought the bookcase upstairs and it fit perfectly. No banging when the door was open whatsoever! The only problem was that it looked a little boring. There were no colorful children’s books to brighten it up. No random ceramic puppy dogs or family pictures. I put a couple of accessories on it but it still read blah. 

I turned to one of my favorite things in the world, paper. It’s a graphic designer thing. I searched Joanne’s Fabrics and found some paper with a subtle pattern and even some texture. Here’s what I started out with.

{paper of choice, double stick tape or 3M strips}

With only some double stick tape to get the job done, I started taping. I had to trim the pieces a bit since my shelves were not removable. Twenty minutes later, I had this.

Then came the fun part. Dressing it up. Not too much clutter because we do want it to show now!

There are so many different ways you can do this. If your shelves are removable the job will be much easier. Tile your paper and try to match up the print. It doesn’t have to be paper though. Maybe there is some fabric you love. Just apply the 3M strips along the top and bottom. Wrapping paper could work too. You could even get really adventurous and do it yourself. Buy some white package paper at your supply store and decorate it. Stamp it, paint it, glue trim on it, or have your two year old display their artwork.  

The best part is that it’s not permanent. No commitment, no worry about ruining your furniture.  It really changes up a piece of furniture that otherwise goes unnoticed. Your bookcase will thank you.

Neutral is my favorite color

I grew up in a household with all white walls. My father’s furniture business was very contemporary so color was pretty minimal. The color was brought in by accessories, but never on the wall. My first two places were rentals so I wasn’t allowed to touch the walls there. I did the best I could with adding color elsewhere. When the time came and my husband and I built out first house, I finally had my blank canvas. I went to town.
Shocked? Don’t worry, I’m not that bold! I started with the living room/dining room. It was one big room running from the front to the back of my house. Two half walls with columns on either side separated the spaces.  I put up Benjamin Moore’s Honey Wheat on the walls. 
Benjamin Moore’s Oklahoma Wheat
It wasn’t overwhelming but it locked me in on what other colors I could bring into the room. My curtains were a burgundy pattern with flecks of gold mixed in. My sofa, which I already had, was green leather and very dark. All my accessories were somewhere in the mix. Pillows were gold, artwork had burgundy in it. The carpet had a little of both. My furniture was dark cherry. I was in a rut. I liked the way it looked back then, but unless I did an overhaul of the whole room, nothing was changing for a long, long time.
Moving on, we had the office. It was a very small room, about 12 feet x 7 feet, and what color did I decide to paint it? Three coats of Benjamin Moore’s Raspberry Truffle. 
Benjamin Moore’s Raspberry Truffle
I  was in love. I had my color and I was happy. I don’t know how my poor husband let me do all that, but he likes what I like. He’s a keeper. 
I kept the furniture white, which was my only saving grace. It was small, dark and only looked good on a bright sunny day. 
The half bath had a bit more balance. I chose Benjamin Moore’s Hunter green. 
Benjamin Moore’s Hunter Green
I toned it down a bit with white wainscoting going up about 4 feet from the floor. Overall it wasn’t bad. Did I mention this bathroom had no windows? 
The rest of the first floor was an open plan kitchen/breakfast nook/family room. It consisted of tons of windows and light. I chose a neutral, Benjamin Moore’s Shaker Beige. 
Benjamin Moore’s Shaker Beige
It was the most versatile room on the floor. I altered window treatments without a second thought. I could shop for accessories in any section of the pillow aisle. I didn’t have to head straight for the end of the aisle at HomeGoods, where the burgandies’ , golds’ and green’s were. My rug had blue in it. You read that right, blue!
Then two years ago we moved. We bought a 55 year old home with a traditional feel to it. We had moldings, built ins, room to grow and blank walls to paint again. I went with neutrals. Shaker beige for the living room and kitchen. Muslin for the entryway and upstairs hallway. Bleeker beige for the dining room. Shabby Chic for the master bedroom. Just to name a few.
Now I wasn’t playing it safe. It might have looked like all different shades of beige. All the people working on the house before we moved in were looking at me like I was nuts. They were just colorblind. 
I picked warm beige and cool beige paints colors. Did you know there was such a thing? Look at your color and then squint. It’s an old graphic design trick I use to get an overall feel for a piece I am working on. If you squint you don’t see the details, just the overall balance of white space. If you squint at a color, you see the basic undertone. Warm or cool.  Yellow, blue, green or red. Try it!
I am free to accessorize in any way I want. I can pick any fabric I want to make some window treatments. I can change it a week later. I can hang artwork up and not worry about it clashing. I can buy any rug and know it will fit with the room. I can also shop anywhere in the pillow aisle. 

A good window treatment is not hard to find

A while back I was browsing the internet, checking my daily blog reads and I came across this.

Pinned Image
little green notebook

I’d been looking for something to put in my childrens’ bedrooms and was not happy with the options out there. Let me explain myself a bit. I have a girl and two boys. All very active children. My daughter has her own bedroom, being the oldest and the girl. My two boys share a room and are having a blast in the process. Putting curtains in their rooms which hit the floor brings up images of this…
Daily Mail

So I looked for a better solution. I wanted color, something substantial. Pelmet boxes. I did tons of searches, and came up with a simple way to do it. 
These are what I’ve made in the two kids’ bedrooms. 
First my daughters’ room. 
She just has one window so I made the box tall, and cut out a curve along the bottom to make it interesting and a little more feminine. I had a sheer hanging under it, but like I said, monkeys swinging on vines. That came down a couple months ago. It sits in the closet, waiting to go up again in the distant future.
For the boys room I kept it simple. Two windows, straight lines, geometric pattern for the fabric. 

So now you are getting nervous. You are assuming I took all day just for one window. I must have needed to have plywood cut, big fancy tools, a babysitter, someone to help me put them up. You are writing this idea off because it looks too hard.
Think again.
Have you ever cut foam core?
Have you ever used duct tape to seal up a moving box?
Have you ever wrapped a present?
Have you ever hung up a picture on a wall, or curtains over a window?
If you answered yes to all the above you can make a pelmet box.
I used foam core, duct tape, 3M picture hanging tabs, and I’m only 5 feet 2.5 inches tall. So there.
I did it all by my lonesome. It actually took me about 30 minutes to make each one. Easy, painless and I love the way the bedrooms came out. We get lots of compliments! You can make them as tall or wide as you want. Remember, duct tape is your friend. A hot glue gun can’t hurt either. 
I’ll be showing you how I make it on another day. Have your supplies ready! Fabric, foam core (I used two boards per window), duct tape, 3M strips. If you don’t want to spend money on fabric the first time, just practice on an old sheet. You weren’t using it anyway!
I’ll be making one for my kids’ shared bathroom. I wasn’t kidding when I referenced the monkeys!

Rules for the bathroom…

My 3 children all share a bathroom that is still in the process of being decorated.  I got the “childish” themed bathroom out of my system with my last house. I had the whole matching fish set from Pottery Barn on display in there. I’m going for something that is a little more timeless this time around.
In keeping with that, I found this great idea for some wall art for the bathroom. Not childish in design but still fun.
apartment therapy
So I came up with my own version. Basically the same idea, I just added the line “Don’t get wet” because I’m funny like that. And if no one but my kids laugh then I was still funny.
Here is my version….
I printed it out and then trimmed it to fit the frame, leaving a white border. I love how it looks so serious, until you read it. It hasn’t gone up yet, I’m waiting on some fabric for the windows that should be coming soon.  I’ll be making a pelmet box. Very simple, very fast, very inexpensive and it really brings a room together. More on that to come.

The basement

So we have decided to go for it and finish our basement. I’ve had tons of contractors come through to take a look and give us some quotes. I’d just like to say that the basement has stayed the same size, but as the budget expands, the ideas deflate. We started out with this….

The quotes came rolling in. We had plans for a family room, a small kitchen, laundry room, built ins, recessed lighting, closets, movable posts, oh my! My retinas still hurt from reading the numbers they were giving us. So we made some changes. Lots of changes. Edits, deletions, call them what you want. 
We now have a family room space with semi flush mount lighting. A laundry room with no built-ins. Just a good old IKEA Expedit for storage. No kitchen, just a fridge in the storage room. The built-ins won’t be so built in. The post is here to stay. It’s like wrinkles on your face. It adds character, right?
If I am good at one thing it is adjusting. I like that I will have overhead lighting now. I like that my built-ins will maybe be done at a later date, once my kids are past the age of destroying things. 
There is still a separate kids’ area with a closet nearby, great for toys. I have plans for that one. More on that later.
I have a pantry closet which will have shelves and baskets and be uber-organized. Ditto on the later.
So we are now down to this. 
It’s giving us over 400 additional square feet on our home. It is also letting us convert what is now our playroom into an office/guest room/future 4th bedroom. We have 3 kids and a 3 bedroom home. It will come in handy. 

A blog

I have been toying with the idea of starting a design blog for a while now. There are so many different types out there. You have the gung-ho do-it-youselfer’s who go to Home Depot on Monday and have a finished kitchen by Friday.

Not me.

Then there are the ones with style and fabric and a budget the size of Texas who have all the ideas and pay someone to do it all.


Then you have the people who post the things they like.

Wait, back up there.

Then there is me. I have lots of pretty ideas in my head. Some I think up myself, others I get from what I see out there. It’s like Pinterest in my head.

I love Pinterest.

There I said it out loud, and saying it on the internet is a lot louder than actually saying it out loud. Plus my two year old just looked at me funny.

So today is a day to start something new. And it’s a great day for a birthday!