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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5 thoughts on “Decorating Dilemma

  1. Pingback: My Glam Home Office | spinningpixels

  2. Just reviewing about 2,000 emails from first of June- usually I have to just eliminate the month before the last if I didn’t get to them – well that would be July I guess. And this post here is mid- june. I’m especially behind. You though, I usually don’t miss.
    This was a good one and a good tip on the decor site. I’m so in need of a house make-over but I’ve got some major organizing and prepping to do…. like 20 years of back log. I’m determined this year though.

    • LOL Wendy – I know what you mean – I have more email than I know what to do with. Glad you liked the post – I am having fun decorating the place – of course I wish I could tackle everything at once but I have to pace myself a little. One project at a time 🙂 Let me know what you are planning for your makeover

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