Tag Archives: home improvement

The Office

Thanksgiving came and went, and Christmas is right around the corner (how is it possible?).  I guess this means I should be blogging about decking the halls, but I’ve been promising our home office reveal for quite a while now.  So, here it is…our home office transformation (I know you’ve barely been able to contain your excitement!)  As with the rest of the house, it’s a work in progress (I’m already thinking of rearranging the furniture).  But this is what we’ve done so far.

IMG_3387Here are the “before” photos.  Embarassing.

IMG_3386Ugh.  You can see why it needed an overhaul.

IMG_3395First we had our Shepard Fairey prints framed and hung.

IMG_3427Then we hung wallpaper and painted the ceiling.

IMG_0510Next came the shelves (and MANY trips to the Container Store).

IMG_0508Lots of storage was a must to keep our clutter in check.

IMG_0516Velvet drapes and gazelle horns added a masculine touch.

IMG_0539Lastly, we added some comfy furniture

IMG_0548And Husband’s favorite lamp.

The next project on deck is the master bathroom, which is calling for LOTS of paint.  So, you might not see that reveal for a while.  But in the meantime, stay tuned for some smaller projects.


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What the Duck?

My absolutely favorite things in our home are those that we’ve inherited from family.  I love that they tell a story and are a continual reminder of loved ones.

My Grandpa George was an avid outdoorsman, fisherman, duck hunter, gardener, cactus enthusiast, craftsman and collector.  One of his treasured collections consisted of antique duck decoys.  I know, not something most people think of when they think of collecting, but when you grow up in my family duck decoys are an everyday object.  And I’ve come to learn some very interesting history about duck decoys (but I’ll skip the history lesson here.)  The point is I finally realized, after noodling over it for about a year, that the shelves in our dining room would be a perfect display space for some of Grandpa George’s decoys!  So, Dad pulled the collection out of the garage and let me choose (and dust off!) some beauties for our place.

In our dining room we have built-in cabinets and shelves on either side of the fireplace that have been in need of some attention.  When we moved in the built-ins matched our very orange kitchen cabinets (that I can’t wait to paint!)  To get an idea of what painting the kitchen cabinets would actually entail, I did a test drive on the built-ins.  I sanded, primed and painted…and nine or ten weekends later, we had lovely white cabinetry.  Yep, hiring someone to do the kitchen.

Here is my sand, prime, paint, decoy project:

Original color of cabinets (ugh).

Finally, white!  Ah.

Those owls aren’t scared.  Bring on the ducks!

Operation: Decoy Rescue

Right at home.

It means so much to me to have the decoys at home with us.  They conjure wonderful memories of my Grandparent’s house, and I think Grandpa George would be pleased.

Tune is next time for a little bit of party planning…woohoo!

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Project Bedroom, Part II

Throughout this whole home decorating adventure, I’ve learned that Husband has opinions about our decor.  This of course means we don’t always agree on my ideas for the house.  But I’m learning to look at our disagreements as challenges; decorating puzzles to solve…especially when I lose the battle.  I can see now that concessions are OK; they make our home feel like ours not mine.  Often he just looks at me like, “Are you serious?  You want to do what?”, so it’s probably good that he keeps me on track.  Otherwise, we would probably own a black and white paisley chaise lounge (it would have been awesome!)

One of the first concessions I made when we moved into our place was whether or not to have a TV in our bedroom.  I was really against the idea…and what an eyesore it is!  So, here is my attempt to work the television into our bedroom decor.

Laying in bed…this is what we’ve been looking at.

Husband suggested we hang a collection of artwork like I did in the stairwell, but I saw the image below in my Domino book and immediately knew I wanted to hang a collection of our photos.  We have a computer full of snapshots from our travels that rarely see the light of day, yet make us so happy when we occasionally flip through them.  I’m really not into displaying personal photos around the house (I’d rather display artwork), but I thought if I hung the photos in an art-installation-kind-of-way then it might feel more like art than just a bunch of photos.

My initial inspiration, but a bit too casual for what I ultimately wanted.

Once I had decided to embark on this photo project, I started finding all sorts of other photo projects online that people were doing.  One of my favorites actually comes from a friend I went to college with and his girlfriend.  They’re photographers living in Portland, OR and posted this ridiculously cute video of their photo project on their blog.  Check it out!

I love how Whitney and Dave organized their photos by color, but I had envisioned using all black and white photos in my project.  Alas, another concession…Husband wanted color.  FINE!  Here’s my photo project, in color:

I employed the good ol’ wrapping paper trick again.  I decided to hang the photos horizontally at the same width as the TV to make the wall appear longer.

Lots and lots of IKEA frames.

This is about the time Husband’s words were resonating in my brain…”Are you serious?  You want to do what?”

O-M-G…I will never get these 2 billion frames to hang level.

After my power drill this is my favorite tool!

Measurements were off…Why didn’t I just buy some multi-opening frames from Pottery Barn??

This is it?  This is all I got done in one weekend?  And each one is crooked…nice.

I’ll call this the end of phase 1.  More photos will be hung, and mounting tape will be attached to the back of each frame to keep them straight.

It was an ambitious project, but I’m liking it…and so does Husband!  Unlike Dave and Whitney who did a little dance when they finished their project, I poured myself a stiff cocktail.

Tune in next time for my friend’s Bachelorette Pad…


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The Best Nest

I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve lived most of my life with a stereotype about people who decorate.  People like artists, designers and architects liked making their home look stylish and enjoyed decorating it; and people like doctors, lawyers and accountants didn’t care, didn’t know how or didn’t want to bother.  Happily, my friend Evelyn Best blew my stereotype to pieces.  She’s a lawyer, and she can decorate!

Evelyn and her musician husband rent the bottom level of a Spanish Colonial Revival style residence that’s perched on a cliff overlooking the beach.  And she definitely doesn’t let living in a rental hold her back from personalizing it.   She’s got an amazing canvas to work with, and paints it with style.   Her eclectic, yet cohesive, mix of furnishings only heighten the character of their unique apartment.  Evelyn draws inspiration from many things, and impressively brings it all home; no matter how big, how heavy, how intricate or how difficult to make.  And equally impressive, she does so for a steal!


 That awesome chandelier was inspired by a similar fixture Evelyn saw in a local restaurant.  She found a manufacturer to build and install it.  See, impressive.

That fabulous table was a score at an estate sale.  The white upholstery of the chairs and sofa connects you to the light, airy beach setting right outside those doors.

This regal chair was Evelyn’s gift to herself on her 30th birthday.  I love the pillow with it!

This gorgeous flush mount ceiling fixture was an antique market find.

Do any of you remember that (not for sale) swing bed in the Anthropolgie catalogue?  Evelyn found someone to make and install one for her!

She saw a similar heart sculpture on Apartment Therapy.  So, guess what?  She found someone to make and install one for her!

A gift from Musician Husband…fellas, take note.

Evelyn’s super sweet vanity and her solution to necklace organization…her closet rod!

This is where Musician Husband listens to records.

Their personal art gallery.  Love it!

Inspired?  Me, too.

Tune in next week for a Bit of Boo!…

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Adventures in Wallpapering

During the 80s and early 90s I recall that wallpaper was the go-to wall treatment for many homes.   In addition to the Laura Ashley floral explosions, there was a lot of teddy bears, Mallard ducks and baseball gear.  My first wallpaper memories start with the Strawberry Shortcake border lining the top of my pink bedrooms walls.  Once I grew out of my Strawberry Shortcake phase (not soon enough), I remember poring over books upon books of wallpaper samples with my mom at the local paint store.  Every year or two we would map out the next iteration of my bedroom décor, and it always seemed to start with wallpaper.

I come from a family of talented DIYers, which means my mom was the one who hung the wallpaper in our house.  The outcome was always tasteful and perfectly hung wallpaper, however, the execution was not necessarily a joyous occasion.  There was usually a lot of cursing involved.  There was also the time she sliced through a tendon in her finger while trimming wallpaper with an X-acto knife!  Needless to say, I entered into my first wallpapering project with great trepidation.

After about a twenty-year hiatus, wallpaper is the trend in wall treatments again.  But I think it’s back better than ever.  The graphic patterns and edgy images that you can paste onto your walls now, are really awesome.  (no ducks or baseballs!) The problem I have with the new trend, though, is that trends fade and wallpaper is a b*tch to remove.  So, I decided that wallpapering the inside of our bookshelves (they’re from IKEA by the way) would be a great way to indulge in the current trend in a non-committal sort of way.

I spotted our wallpaper years ago in an Anthropologie catalogue.  The wallpaper wasn’t for sale, it was just in the background of one of the sets.  But I HAD to find that wallpaper!  I finally tracked it down at Walnut Wallpaper http://www.walnutwallpaper.com.  (Yes, I have looked at every wallpaper style on that website at least twice and have an embarrassingly large stack of their samples.)

Here it is,  the wallpaper:

Here are some instructions from Design*Sponge:  http://www.designsponge.com/2008/03/before-and-after-ambers-bookshelves.html

And here is my wallpaper project:



 I happily made it through this project without cursing, and with all of my fingers intact.  But I will tell you, it was challenging enough to know that when/if I decide to wallpaper our powder room, I’m hiring a professional!

Tune in next time for A Decorator’s Guide to the Galaxy…


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Dog-Gone It

About 6 months after we moved into our new home, we brought home a puppy.  Yes, that’s him up there staring back at you.  We have an unusually shaped pocket off our dining room that the previous owners used as an office/sitting area.  We saw it as the perfect puppy area.

For the past year, this has been Cassius’ home base; His Domain.  This is where he ate, hung out during the day (aka slept) and trained.  Now that he’s a year old, he is able to handle his freedom during the day and conduct himself responsibly outside of the gate.  And we, of course, want to reclaim the space.  So, down came the gate!

For the time being, I chose to turn the former puppy play pen into a sitting area. I always have my eye out for occasional chairs, and usually get discouraged by the outrageous price of them.  But when I found online a couple of tufted upholstered chairs on sale at Restoration Hardware, I got really excited.  They picked up the color and style of a living chair I already have, and did I mention they were on sale?  I knew they would be perfect for our new sitting area.  However, when they arrived, all I could think was that they were the perfect size for a hobbit.  No wonder they were on sale!  I set them up as I imagined anyway, but will likely use them elsewhere eventually.

I hung drapes to enhance the window.  The bookshelves are from Crate & Barrel and came from our last apartment.  The metal side table is, wait for it, IKEA circa 2003.

Sadly, Cassius didn’t like Mommy messing around in His Domain.  He would run downstairs every time I was tinkering in that area.  Ultimately, he made it very clear that he HATED the new decor.  Not only did he target the area as his new potty spot, but he decided to dismantle the decor as you can see below.

I think stripes on stripes is better, Mommy.

Currently, the new sitting area is pending a new plan.

Tune in next time for Adventures in Wallpapering…

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The Garden of Eat When?

One of the compromises we made when buying a town home was to live without a yard.  As a Landscape Architecture student, some couldn’t fathom how I would survive without the opportunity to garden.  The beauty of our place is that it’s the front unit of the building, which means we get an abundance of natural sunlight upstairs.  It also means we get an abundance of natural sunlight on our balcony.  So, who needs a yard when you’ve got prime growing real estate right outside your sliding glass door?

When I was a kid my parents and grandparents always had fruits and vegetables growing in the garden.  It was such a fascinating experience for me as a child, and I get very nostalgic when I think of those summers filled with daily garden surprises and the amazingly delicious bounty it produced.  I love that I experienced what it’s like to nurture a garden, and revel in the results.  I also love that urban gardening is becoming fashionable.  I won’t get on my soap box here, but I feel that at-home/local/urban/community supported agriculture is great for all.  With that said, can you guess what I’m using our sunny balcony for?

This is my first go at a vegetable garden of my own, and instantly I was transported back to that excited kid looking for new veggies everyday.  When my husband saw the start up costs of my balcony garden, however, his cost benefit analysis didn’t compute.  (He didn’t understand the cost benefit analysis of our dog, either, but now he does!)  After purchasing all of the cedar boxes and the electronic composter, I do agree that growing and composting in the ground is far cheaper than doing it on your balcony, but the rewards are still the same.

Here is our garden, and my gardening assistant:

We don’t have a huge balcony, and would like to keep enough space for BBQing, so finding the right growing containers was important.  After months of searching for the right planters, I found these 10″ square cedar boxes and knew they were the solution.  They blend in well with the building, discourage pests and rot, are easy to move and don’t take up too much space.  Plus, I like the way they look.  And I still can’t believe how perfectly the composter fits out there…even right next to an outlet!

So far we’ve had basil, lettuce, spinach, green beans, chard, rosemary and garlic come from our new garden.  And my Meyer Lemon and Mandarin trees are blooming like crazy!  I’m still waiting on zucchinis and bell peppers, and I’m afraid the artichoke is not going to happen.  Despite our bit of bounty, though, we definitely still need a CSA box each week!

Tune in next time for Dog-Gone It…

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