Archive for December, 2009

I’m not one to decorate with paper lanterns. They just don’t fit with our house and our design. OK, so I mean that I haven’t found a way for them to work with our house or our design. I do find them attractive. They are so fragile, weightless, and light but they take up so much space and really can make a great focal point for a room. For something so “flimsy”, it can really make a statement. They are usually inexpensive and add whimsy to a space. If you add them to a room, it makes that room feel like a party and very festive.

I did find this really cute room in British Vogue. It’s a bit too cottage chic for my style but I do like it. (Don’t get me wrong. I do appreciate cottage style. I’m just not in the place or the home for it). I often find that when I see paper lanterns in decorating, it is often in a room for a teen or child. Paper lanterns can look too young and too dorm-like. This room may be country cottage, but at least it looks grown-up. This isn’t a dollhouse cottage. It’s quirky and fun. The lamp really pops against the paleness of the room. It’s a nice piece of art, a focal point, to have in this family room/library. I love red used as an accent. I’m such a sucker for it. David and I have decided that blue would be our new red, but I don’t think that has lasted.

pic found in British Vogue

I love red and vermillion and carmine. I also love these country cottage curtains against the red floral lantern. If you are going to have a country cottage you might as well mix floral prints.

Anyways, I also like the concept of this room and not just its style. I love that it is a library styled family room/dining room. Children can get homework help there. Children and adults can do art projects. Grown-ups can drink tea and look at design blogs on their laptop. It’s a nice use of that space without looking like a typical family room. It’s cute enough to entertain in. And it looks very “budget” friendly. These are the kind of pieces that one can collect from yard sales, thrift stores, and International markets.

Well, we’re renting that industrial buffer today to finish up the hardwood floors downstairs today. Boy, are my abs going to hurt tomorrow. Buffers belong in a rodeo.



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Nanette Lepore's dressing room

I predict that I will never live in a place that will be big enough for me to justify having my own dressing room. But, I can dream about it, right? Currently, I have a closet sized boudoir and I feel “uptown” as my Southern grandma would say. I know if I continue to choose to live in older homes that I will never have a walk-in closet. It appears that a full-blown dressing room is my only option 🙂

This first featured dressing room is that of Nanette Lepore. Yep, I expect for this one to be magnificent and nothing less. This is a huge dressing room complete with romantic and over the top lightning and accessories. The ottoman has an Old Hollywood vibe and it wants you to set there and put on a pair of sparkling strappy pumps. Everything in this dressing room is organized so nicely. It’s a functional space that you wouldn’t be embarrassed to have a conversation in. Oh, and the dog is adorable. I think Frink has a crush on her.

This second dressing room featured in Living Etc. is my dream dressing room. It has that certain something that I like. Oh, that’s called antlers. Well, sometimes it’s horns. I drool over this dressing room. Look at that fireplace! (It feels a bit of a waste in that dressing room.) Both of these dressing rooms have great lighting. Oh, but I just love this one. The architectural details are superb no matter what one would choose to do with this room. I love how you can see all of the clothes/shoes. I know that center piece is filled with accessories.

Well, it looks like I am going to have to continue drooling over rich designer’s dressing rooms. I’m not going to have one any time soon. Maybe I can talk David into converting our studio into a giant dressing room for me. Wish me luck.


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Laundry room featured in Country Living

I love things to be organized. I’m not very good at it but I can spend hours on-line browsing silly storage and organizing ideas. The key to organizing and storing is to not have a lot of stuff. We all know that, but we still have a lot of stuff  in our daily living. I have rolls and rolls of paper towels, bottles of every variety of cleaner ever, and tons of other stuff that I need to run a clean household. I love for things to be organized in a “unique” and salvaged ways. I hate plastic totes! I spend hours drooling over well-organized basements and laundry rooms. The house is coming together but that basement is still as scary as ever. This is where I have to do laundry. It’s gross and I don’t know how much more of it I can take. I haven’t hand washed a cashmere sweater down there…ever. Just imagine the pics of this hoarder house before we got involved. Do you think the basement was clean if their was 20 toupees worth of hair around the stove? Nope. So, I’m spending time planning my laundry room/project room.

I came across this charming but somewhat terrifying laundry room in Country Living. I do like it despite my mixed feelings. It’s organized and better finished than my house, but it is still creepy like my dark, dusty, and scary seaside basement. (What’s up with creepy slasher film showers in old seaside basement homes?) The dollhouse used for storage makes this a bit of a horror flick. I’ve always been a little scared of dollhouses. They are interesting and they do take some skill to complete, but they are featured in many horror films. This has ruined their rep. I’ve passed up many antique dollhouses in my day. I find them too creepy. I find anything doll related creepy. Especially antique doll stuff. Now I wish I hadn’t of left huge handmade dollhouses in the dumpster. I kind of like this dollhouse used as storage/furniture. It’s creepy and novel. Two words that I would love to have describe my house. I want it to be contrived creepy not actually creepy like my current basement. We sure know how to grow spiders here in the Northwest…perhaps they could set up house in the dollhouse.


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Go to Lowe’s or Home Depot and ask someone about where to find floor waxing supplies, or worse yet, for advice, I dare you.  Waxing floors is “old-people” knowledge.  To figure out how to do it, ask somebody old how their mother did her wood floors.  It was lost as a common practice decades ago, supplanted by cheap polyurethanes and the desire for a tough, resilient finish.

Restoration of houses is so often plagued by lack of knowledge of historical methods.  Rather than do the real thing, lot’s of renovators would rather use a contemporary method and try to fake the antique look.  Plaster work is another fine example of this.  You’ll never match the real thing.  Ask a remodeling contractor how to do plaster repairs, and the answer is: “tear out the wall and dry wall it, then spray it with texture.”  Which, by the way, typically looks nasty compared to actual lathe and plaster with texture.  As if the builders had a job-site compressor with a hopper full of goop in 1935.  I still haven’t been able to figure out how they actually did it, but I’m guessing they sponged it and did the entire house by hand.  Labor was cheap in the 1930s, and materials were expensive.

When we bought our house, we pulled up the nasty light blue shag carpet to find mostly perfect old growth white oak floors.  According to contractors, hardware stores, neighbors, and the internet, the only option was to sand it all the way down to get all the wax out, and then apply a polyurethane or aluminum oxide coating.  Then the  bids on that came in at nearly $6,000!

But we didn’t even want “perfect floors,” we wanted “antique” floors.  Floors that showed the age of the house, and that had the same beautiful warm glow that these originals had.  I spent hours trying to figure out how to do this myself.  I could rent a sander and try to get the floors refinished myself- not that much of a stretch for me, because I’ve done a little bit of furniture finishing.  I estimated the cost of that process at over $1000- if I ignored all the time and energy that would be spent on cleaning up the unbelievable mess created by sanding 1500+ sq. ft. of wood down an 1/8 of an inch.  I’m not one of those people who thinks that I’m Donald Trump and that I can’t be hassled with doing work or spending time- but getting that much sawdust out of all these textured walls and trim would be an absolute nightmare.

So I took a risk and I pursued waxing the floors.

It's a finesse game, so I never got it.

It’s kind of inherent in my personality to distrust most of what people tell me not to do- especially when they don’t appear to have a good reason.  I’m happy to say that we almost have our entire house done with wax now, and I anticipate cost will easily be under $200.

Here’s what I learned:

1.  Wax: to wax a wood floor, you need a paste wax.  SC Johnson makes a good one for about $5 a can, and a can will do about 400 sq. ft.

2.  Restoration and Cleanup: I used Howard’s Restore-a-Finish and Howard’s Feed and Wax. They’re the highest cost items I bought, but a little goes a long, long way.  Both of these products were absolutely magic on the “golden oak” color of our floors.  Rub your stains and paint splatters out with steel wool and soapy water.  Let it dry.  If the stain lightened the wood, apply the restore a finish- in small amounts.  If it didn’t, then apply the feed and wax.  Always rub with the grain of the wood, and try to stick to one board at a time.  If you don’t, you’ll run the risk of the steel wool catching on a splinter and fraying.  Not a huge risk to the floor, but when you’ve got a lot of floor to do, don’t waste your time trying to pick #0000 steel wool out of splinters.

3. Applying Product to the floor: Apply Feed and Wax to the entire floor with a wide lambskin “stain applicator” on a long pole.  Use the pole to quickly smooth out any uneven application of wax.  Do this enough, and you might achieve a nice shine- but it’s not really important at this state.  Leave the floor alone as much as you can for a few days.  Then, using a rag, apply the SC Johnson Paste Wax with the grain and let it sit for a while.

4. Buffing:  we paid about $30 for 24 hrs. of renting a commercial buffer and buying the wheel.  This thing is like wrangling a roid raging rodeo bull.  Start the buffer in the middle of the room the first time- because it will pretty much tear your arms off.  Go slow, and cover every area you can with it.  Use the lambskin application on the corners.

In general, you should remember that the house you’re renovation may have really “thirsty” floors because it’s been poorly (or in our case: not) maintained.  So don’t rush into just paste wax and buff.  Clean the floor thoroughly and apply a feed and wax and wait. Give it two weeks if you have to.  You’ll probably find that your feed and wax sinks right in and looks like it was never applied.  Apply it again, and repeat a couple times before you apply wax and buffing.  Our first round with the buffer was disappointing because all the wax soaked in after we buffed it.  It looked awesome for a month.

The end result of all this is a finish that I absolutely love- and one that you can repair, not just replace.  Any time the floor gets damaged, I apply steel wool and feed and wax.  Once or twice a year, we’ll have to reapply wax and rent the buffer again.  That’s a lot of work.  But at 10% the cost of the alternatives, and when it looks this good, it’s hard to want a poly finish now.

Just look at how “worn” these floors feel.  It feels like every single board is a slightly different shade of gold.  I didn’t buy an old house to try and make a new house out of it- and if that’s your goal, you’ll find yourself frustrated at every turn in a home renovation.

This project was just another confirmation of our philosphy for the renovation: work with the house, not against it.


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This is one of my favorite pictures of interior  inspiration. I absolutely love Adam Wallacavage’s octopus chandeliers and pretty much any “other” chandelier of his. Swoon, swoon, swoon. This is a dreamy room complete with all of my favorite things. It doesn’t get much better than this. There is no reason for me to comment on this room. One day my house will be finished and it will be this fabulous.

I really need a white octopus chandelier or perhaps a vermilion one for the creepy great room. www.adamwallacavage.com

Now excuse me. I have been painting a dining nook to get it more appropriate for a spy drama set in a 1965  swank hotel in Hong Kong. Ghost Whisperer reruns are on and I have a 2 Buck Chuck chilling in the freezer. Have a nice evening.


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I’ve been a blogging slacker! I do apologize. We’ve been neck-deep in projects. We have made progress and since we both have 2 weeks off, I will update! I’ve had time to revisit decorating. A few months ago that was not exciting and too overwhelming. I just wanted a clean, dust-free place to eat. I didn’t care what I ate on. Now that things are starting to look like a “real” house, I am feeling rejuvenated again. I feel like I can do this and perhaps even finish it…well…maybe not to my personal standards but it can be a “presentable” place. This week we have been working on the glamorous dining nook that we gave up on in September.

Badgley Mischka dining room

Badgley Mischka dining room

Anyways…today I have been inspired by these moody and dark rooms. We painted the “great” room and it is dark but less moody than I want. So, I am going to take a few pointers from these 2 rooms.

This first room is from the master of romantic, glamorous design: Badgley Mischka. I am obsessed with his old Kentucky home. I adore this black library/dining room. I keep scaring myself away from doing the house in dark colors. We painted the “great” room a dark liver and I love it. Dark adds drama, it photographs well, and it isn’t scary in real life. I am a bit sad that I didn’t paint my built-ins black. I was too overwhelmed at the time and couldn’t make such choices. I just needed a place to live. Back to this room…I love every accent. One can’t go wrong with horns and pewter. Badgley is the only man on the planet that I know of that can make an old, rustic Kentucky home look dramatic and glamorous while still keeping that certain rural “charm”.

The second room is a more feminine and something that I found on Southern Accents. This black library is just as dark and moody but it does have plenty more knick-knacks (less books) and girly touches. I swoon over that light fixture as well. I love the metals in this room. Pair these colors with something chrome and you’ve got something that looks too

Southern Accents black library

player/bachelor.  My only complaint about the room is that I hate hanging textiles as decoration. It looks too “dressing room”.  That is just a personal pet peeve.

Well, now I am second guessing my design choices of my remodel. I want something dark. Dark really works if you have lots of interesting stuff. For years, I’ve tried to stay away from stuff but I am finally giving in to my personality fault. I love to spend weekends at antique and thrift stores. I just have to learn how to do it “right”, how to have stuff but not to look like a pack-rat and a clutterer. It’s coming along.

I guess I should start helping David sand the plaster down in that dining nook. Aren’t our vacations just pathetic? Happy holidays.


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