Category: Home Decorating

High Design

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The March 2006 issue of House & Garden shows us a touch of real elegance in decorating:

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A styrofoam Dunkin’ Donuts cup in the living room.

Painting the Dining Room – Update

I wrote about painting the dining room a while back…here’s how that’s going:

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The walls are great, if a little more GREEN than I wanted. I hung everything back on the wall, and it looks pretty good. The ceiling, however…well, I started painting the ceiling late one night. I got one corner done, and realized that Pesto and Fern Green, while looking nice together in paint-chip form, dreadfully clash in real life. Midnight is too late to deal with drama, so I stopped painting and went to bed. The next morning, they still clashed, so I have not done anything further on the ceiling. That one corner is still painted…I’m happy to let it stay that way until I can figure out what to do. Matthew suggested hiring Amy to paint some sort of mural on the ceiling, and that’s what we’re leaning toward doing.

I did paint the wall of the hallway adjacent to the dining room Pesto, and it’s beautiful. I kinda wish I had painted the whole dining room that color.

And the re-upholstered chairs look grand. My mom helped me with them when she came to visit a couple weeks ago. Eleven of the twelve are done.

Any suggestions for the ceiling?

Painting the Dining Room

This is what the Redken artists say to themselves when they’re working on a hair style/color/look, and it’s a little weird at the halfway point…”Trust the process”…to remind themselves that if they follow all the steps, in the end, it will turn out well.

That’s what I’m saying to myself about my dining room. I am taking Christopher Lowell‘s advice and Painting! With Color! The dining room is so big and stark that I haven’t been able to make it cozy and welcoming. Lowell says in his book Seven Layers of Design, “We hide behind white because we think it’s safe. To compensate for lack of color, we spend thousands of dollars on upholstery, rugs, drapes, and accessories to keep our interiours from looking cold and sterile. You will forever be fighting to make your rooms look warm and inviting if you don’t paint with color!”

When I interviewed him at High Point in October, I asked him what renters could do about painting. He said, “Let me give you a formula. When we polled – we’re so lucky, we just get to talk to everybody all the time about anything we want to – we polled renters about how long they found at an average they were in an apartment. And the minimum average was three years. Take three years divided by six gallons of white paint. It comes down to less than 2.4 cents a day. Okay? Have a ball. Paint everything in sight. Because the reality of it is, your landlord shouldn’t be holding you hostage, no matter where you live. And anybody who’s rented…and they can’t paint, they got a very bad deal.” Basically, paint whatever you want and then if the landlord doesn’t like it, just paint it white again when you leave.

So I am Having A Ball. I’m hoping that The Process will turn out well once I’m done. It’s a little worrisome partway through… This is the effect I was going for. But I think I picked the wrong color. It’s not so much a moss green as a fern green – it has blue undertones rather than yellow. I thought it would be more soothing than an olive green, but right now it just looks very…GREEN. (Hey, Wal-Mart has a very limited color selection…but you can’t beat $9.44/gallon!)

Gwyn and Amy came over yesterday to help me paint, and we got the first coat done, then after they left I did a second coat on two of the walls. Then I ran out of paint. (Sighhhhhhhh…) So I will go get more paint on my way home tonight, finish the walls, and then paint the ceiling. (I think I will really like the ceiling color…it’s a light green called “Pesto.”) Painting the ceiling is part of The Process. In Seven Layers, Lowell says, “Yes, do paint the ceilings. Introducing rich color on the walls while leaving the ceiling white will make your room look as if you’ve spread a big bedsheet over it. The ceiling will actually seem lower if left white…paint the ceiling two shades lighter than your wall color…By using two shades of the same color for your walls and ceiling, the light will now reflect evenly throughout your room.”

Even though I’m a little worried about how it’s going to turn out – most of my accessories are olive-brown-bronze-based green – I keep repeating to myself Lowell’s advice: “Don’t make judgements about your color choices until all references to white are out of the room. Only then will you have a clear vision of what the room will look like.”

And as Gwyn reminded me, I can always add a faux finish to tone down the color. (However, one of my favorite lines in Seven Layers concerns faux finishes: “…paint your room first and give yourself the option of whether you want to proceed. Introducing wonderful color into a room might do the trick on its own. Ask yourself, ‘Does this newly painted room really need that extra little hoo-ha?’”)

(And moving on to Layer 3: Upholstered Furniture, this week I also hope to reupholster the seats of the dining chairs – I got a really nice medium green jacquard at JoAnn Fabrics on Saturday on sale for $2.78/yard.)

Framing Artwork Inexpensively

I bought this print for Matthew when I was at the World Market Center trade show in Las Vegas in July, covering the show for the magazine. I was wandering around one of the exhibit halls trying to find a particular vendor, and as I passed the booth of a print dealer, this print stopped me in my tracks. Literally. I walked into the booth and just stood there, staring at it, pretty much transfixed.

Remembering a previous bad experience with not buying a print I loved and then not being able to find it later (and I still wouldn’t have it unless Hannah had taken on the mission and scoured every Kirkland’s in Oklahoma), I decided to buy it on the spot. Since this was a trade show, the exhibitors were looking to sell to a company like Bob’s Funiture Extravaganze or Kirkland’s, which would then resell thousands of *insert product here*. They’re not looking to sell one piece to one random person from Rhode Island. But the dealer was really nice and sold me the print at wholesale price, and shipped it to me after the show.

Custom framing is not cheap (Stacey, remember the time we went to Michael’s to inquire about a small custom framing job for me?). So I left the picture in its mailing tube for months, trying to figure out what to do about framing it.

I was at Ocean State Job Lot, a New England discount chain, on Saturday, and they had huge, 20×30 pieces of hideous, framed artwork for $12.99. You don’t EVER see a deal like that even at Wal-Mart. Yes, the artwork was really ugly, but the frames were great.

The back of the frame was not designed to come off…but after wrestling with the thing over two days, I got it all taken apart, the new picture put in, and it looks gorgeous in our Paris-themed bedroom.

Fabric Obsession

I confessed to Hannah the other day my obsession with fabric. I knew it was really bad when I went to Wal-Mart on Sunday to get a few supplies for a birthday gift for Matthew. The things I needed did not in any way involve fabric (I would tell you what it is, but he may read this. Shhhhhh.).

When I left Wal-Mart, I had the things I needed PLUS the fabric, thread, trim and pattern to make a dress.

Let me tell you why I did not need to add one more project to my sewing room bins. Here’s my current list of projects for which I have the supplies but not the time to make them:

-Arwen’s Requiem dress
-Embroidery on almost-finished Eowyn shieldmaiden outfit
-Two green Fellowship capes

The one I just bought the stuff for is Lizzie’s orange dress from Pride and Prejudice

(In addition, by Oct. 29, I will design, purchase supplies for, fit and make FIVE fairy costumes for a really cool Peter Pan-themed bridal shower. But I hope to make this a fun group event and get all the “fairies” involved in helping with their own costumes.)

Home decor:
-Kitchen coffee bean curtains
-Living room curtains made from a sari
-Coffee placemats
-Black faux fur pillow shams for bedroom
-Cream European-sized shams for bedroom
-Small shams for living room throw pillows
-Canopy for dining room
-Canopy for bedroom

Plus, I need to buy the supplies for and make bedroom curtains, sewing room curtains, and full slipcovers for the 12 dining chairs we just bought.

I am going to have to put a moratorium on buying anything from Wal-Mart or JoAnn Fabrics until I finish EVERY SINGLE project I have in-house! (Any bets on how long such a resolution would actually last?) Maybe I just won’t even ENTER a Wal-Mart or fabric store until approximately 2008…

Anyway, Matthew and I are hosting a ball on Oct. 15, and I want to wear the orange Regency dress for that event, which makes that costume the highest priority. (Besides all the home decor projects I want to finish before hosting Mikaela’s engagement party on Oct. 11)

The last time I made a Regency dress, I cobbled it together without a pattern. I wanted a better fit this time, so I bought a cheap $2 pattern for a high-waisted dress with a gathered bodice and cap sleeves. I wanted a long sleeve on it, so I posted on the best costuming forum in the world asking about sleeve tips. Amanda (a.k.a. the Gray Cat production department) saw my post and offered to let me borrow her Regency sleeve pattern. I will trace it onto tissue tonight.

I mentioned my Big Problem to Mary Jo (the woman who helps lead our young adult Bible study) last night, and she said she has the same issue! So we scheduled a catch-up-on-sewing day for Saturday, Sept. 24. She’s going to work on a jacket and I will make my orange dress. Hooray!

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