Decorating Dilemma

bargain lamps from Costco with replacement drum shades

bargain lamps from Costco with replacement drum shades

Normally I am  pretty confident with my design choices for the home. I love to decorate and   all these years of making a living as a designer means I don’t face the paralysis that some people experience when picking a paint color or furniture choice. Its just paint, people – easy to change and cheap – be brave and go bold 🙂

I was excited about finally buying a home again even though it was a little tired – all those rooms needing a revamp would be so much fun!

However when we found our perfect place, I was faced with a dilemma. This perfect house had tons of 6 paneled doors, crown molding, wide baseboard trim and architectural detail –  absolutely beautiful – but all of it was natural wood…. all of it.

Now some people might think  – great, what’s the problem? But I know how all that wood, mixed with the wood flooring and the wood built-ins and wood cabinets can really limit your color choices – with white trim you can do anything you want. Additionally your interior can end up looking more rustic, country or lodge like which was not really my personal style. I like a more contemporary vibe.

New Island Pendants

New Island Pendants

So I was faced with the question – do I paint it all white before I move in? Now before any design purists start screaming, we are not talking about a historic home – my new house is only 10 years old. I cringe when people buy a beautiful old Craftsman or Victorian, then go in and spray gloss white everywhere. However, in this instance, it was a modern home and it wouldn’t be an actual crime to paint it.  I could have my crisp white woodwork and choose any color in the rainbow to paint the rooms – everyone gets what they want!

But, the more I agonized over it, the more I realized that I just couldn’t do it. I chose this house because I loved it – it is a modern interpretation of Craftsman style – all one level, flowing open floor plan, tall banks of windows and french doors to bring the outdoors in, lots of natural elements and a big rock fireplace. So I finally decided that I should just accept the challenge and use my design chops to create a balance between all that wood everywhere and my desire to have a lighter, brighter contemporary style.

just some of my inspiration board

just some of my inspiration board

With that I started pulling together a virtual moodboard for inspiration. There is a great site that was perfect for me Houzz – you can search through thousands of inspirational images for interior design and filter though different styles and room types etc. You can also save the things you like in your own ideabooks – I guess it is the equivalent of Pinterest for home design and decorating.

I printed some of the images out along with furniture options from favorite stores, added fabric and wall paper swatches and finally hit the paint store to relieve them of some of their paint chips. I was having a blast planning all this before we even moved in. My poor husband would listen patiently to all my rambling thoughts on the perfect paint or fabric –  the merits of one shape of chair vs another –  how I was going to break up the monotony of all that wood using color and texture etc.

Replacement light for eat in kitchen - love this it is like sculpture!

Replacement light for eat in kitchen – love this it is like sculpture!

I firmly believe that a well designed home doesn’t feel like a showroom – it has to feel like a place you can relax – you can curl up on the couch with your dogs and kids. Equally though it should not be too matchy, matchy – like you went to Rooms to Go and  just picked out a living room to be delivered – all the pieces part of the same set… How boring is that?

Your home should have personalty based on your personal style, your interests, family photos, mementos of trips taken, pieces that look like you collected them over time and each has some meaning.

The big day arrived and we finally moved in – the frenzy of unpacking and fixing all the things that were wrong with the place was completely chaotic – it truly was a three ring circus for about a month.

My glam designer fabric

My glam designer fabric

I had based my entire palette around a fabulous fabric that I fell in love with that would help tie in those contemporary colors that I wanted with the warm wood tones that filled the house. Of course it was designer and to the trade only sigh….

I often claim to my teenager that “I own the internets as Queen of All Search!” Proof positive when I found a place in LA that would order my designer fabric and sell to me at a discount  – Yay! I ordered my fabric and the most amazing wall paper for my home office (that project I will save for another post)  However it would be 4 months before I would get it! Arrgh!

Undeterred, I charged ahead with my plan. The previous owners had done what most people do when they have so much wood work – pretty much everything was painted either olive green, forest green, buttery yellow and sage. The whole house looked a little drab and dark – even more so because the previous owners’ kids had drawn on a lot of the walls with crayons or markers LOL.  Some fresh paint was absolutely in order.

wallpaper in built ins - love it!

wallpaper in the built ins – love it!

Painting was going to be such a huge project with the open floor plan that I had planned not to take it on right away but, when the wallpaper arrived that I planned to put inside the back wall of the built in shelves in the living room – (to help break up the monotony of the wood remember LOL) I thought –  this is just a small project and besides I just want to see how it looks…

Of course then I wallpapered the accent wall in the breakfast area to “tie the whole thing together” but then the old paint in there looked so dingy….. I swore I was only going to paint a small area that was particularly “artistic” but as soon as I did then the snowball effect happened…

If you have ever watched the movies Aliens where Sigourney Weaver wipes a dirty spot on Newt’s face then says “whoops look what I did – I went and made a clean spot I guess I will have to go ahead and do the whole thing”  Cue painting frenzy and severe sleep deprivation

wallaper up - now dingy paint must go

wallaper up – now dingy paint must go

All in all we painted most of the more public spaces in record time (in time for the housewarming party – gotta have a deadline) I trusted my instincts and went with some great blues, greens and grays for the most part all tied together by the inspiration fabric. Check out my last post to see how I incorporated that when it finally did arrive.

I splurged on some big ticket items like the leather couch that will be an anchor piece that we will have forever and my designer inspiration fabric –  but I love finding low cost alternatives and mixing the high and low – like accent chairs from Pier 1 and the table lamps that I saw that were $250 each – ouch! Costco had a pair for $49 that were almost identical in style. Granted I spent more on the replacement drum shades instead of the more traditional slanted ones they came with but $130 for the pair is better than $500 for the original ones so I still win LOL

We switched out several of the big light fixtures in the kitchen and dining areas and slowly but surely our home emerged from under all that neglect and artistic scribbles. This is a work in progress  – not much is really finished yet – accessories and styling are ongoing – but it will be fun putting our stamp on the place and we wont be wondering how to spend our weekends anytime soon 🙂

The bedrooms and bathrooms will have to wait for now –  we can only do so many projects at a time and we are building a palatial chicken coop at the moment LOL

Mind you, the master bedroom is starting to whisper to me…. those scribbles on the wall need some attention…

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Easy projects with big impact

ottoman recovered

ottoman recovered

So given that I have been derailed by the grand chicken coop caper, I thought I would just post a couple smaller projects that I was really happy with.

First of all my entire palette for the new house was dictated by a fancy fabric I fell in love with even though it took 4 months to arrive.  I just decorated around the missing fabric till it showed up. Thankfully it looked the same when it did arrive.

I had bought a giant ottoman to use a a coffee table that I got a screaming deal on because the fabric was so unbelievably ugly.  I had just tossed a throw over it when we moved in so I didn’t have to look at it  – so the very first thing I did when the fabric arrived was recover that bad boy.

Honestly, a staple gun and an hour is all it took. Trickier was the nail head trim that I picked up at a fabric store. It comes all attached in one long piece so you don’t have to nail in individual nails. Supposedly that makes it easier to keep a level line – it was not that easy and I almost regretted using it but as long as you are not looking with a magnifying glass it is fine – I think I am just overly picky…

The good news is I love the ottoman now that it is recovered and with all the wood in my house and the leather couch the last thing I wanted was a wood coffee table – too much brown – this is much lighter and brighter and took very little time to do.

Cushions

Cushions

Once that was out of the way, I made a couple throw pillows for the couch and I plan to make some for the breakfast area too – but as I mentioned I got derailed by chickens LOL so I will have to get back to that another day

Another really easy project was for my windows – the master bedroom has lovely french doors that lead out to the pool area, which I love,  but the fact is, I am not the most tidy human in the world and don’t always make the bed and my husband has a tendency to leave clothes all over the floor. This would not be an issue if your bedroom is upstairs but when the pool guy or house guests are wandering around in back and can see right in to how messy you really are it is not so great.  I like to maintain the illusion that I have everything under control LOL

Because of this and the fact that I am too lazy to tidy up every morning before work, I ended up leaving the blinds closed a  lot which made it pretty dark in the bedroom during the day – this was just not working for me… Surely there was a better solution.

french doors finally private

french doors finally private

I did a quick search on Amazon and found this great window privacy film that looked like a pattern of bamboo etched on the glass. It was pretty inexpensive, came on a roll and used no adhesive so I wasn’t worried about ruining the windows or not being able to remove it if I didn’t like it

You literally cut to size –  spray water on the window – lay the film on top – spray some more water and use a squeegee to get rid of the bubbles. Thats it! No really – thats it!

 

 

It worked amazingly well  – now I have plenty of light but no one can see the underwear on the floor LOL

If I change my mind in future,  I just peel it off and no residue is left behind

I love it when things work so well for so little effort or cost

Close up of film

Close up of film

Chicken Adventures

Chicken TV

Chicken TV

So I had planned to be all organized blogging about how the house and land projects in order etc – but to hell with that – Chicks happened! LOL

We had planned on getting a couple chickens for the eggs and after doing some research I wisely decided that 4 was all we needed and that we were not going to raise baby chicks because of the amount of effort and observation they needed – I would just buy 4 pullets (for the uninitiated that means female chickens that had not quite started laying yet)

This was clearly a smart plan since we are busy and this would be the first time keeping chickens. I ordered and nice smaller coop kit online – a chicken tractor to be precise – one that you can move around the yard so they can have fresh grass to forage on. My teenager built it for me and now all I needed were some chickens to put in it.

Chicken Tractor

Chicken Tractor

I quickly discovered that getting small numbers of pullets was not as easy as I had hoped – scarce as hens teeth, if you will. Larger minimum orders or people just selling straight run chicks (unsexed – you don’t know what flavor they are till they grow up) which doesn’t work for me because I do not have the heart to kill the roosters for meat

Then a couple things happened – first the house we just purchased has a fairly large chain link enclosure – might have been a dog run or something and I had the genius idea that I could turn that into a nice chicken run if I just built a coop onto the side of it…. I also found a lady online close to me that has a small chicken farm that was willing to let me pick out as many female chicks as I wanted and on top of that we visited a feed store that just got a bunch of young pullets in stock…..

All my sensible plans of only getting 4 older pullets went straight out the window when faced with the undeniable cuteness of the week old chicks. I bought eight of them! 4 buff orpintons, 2 black sex links, 2 other hybrids that I have forgotten the names off.

Chicks!

Chicks!

So I brought my chirping cargo back to the house and installed them in the small coop inside the garage with a lamp as a makeshift brooder for now – It’s florida so I don’t need to worry too much about them getting too cold but the first week they need to be at 90, going down 5 degrees a week till they are ready to live outside at about 5 weeks old when all their proper feathers come in.

So we have less than a month to build the larger coop in the yard….. more on that project later.  For now we are enjoying watching the chicken TV – the chicks have their wing feathers and their tail feathers are just starting to sprout.

We have been getting up at dawn to make sure they are warm enough and I have even had to wipe tiny chicken butt to save it from getting “pasted up” – a condition which can kill them – so we need to keep an eye on that runty little one. Six months from now I will have to get creative with egg recipes as we may be drowning in them LOL

Baby chicks trying to roost

Baby chicks trying to roost