Sunday, November 8, 2009

a new abode

I'm having to grasp a new concept: we will be moving across the water to Seattle. While the thought of leaving our sweet and wonderful home behind and settling into a totally urban environment freaks me out a lot, I am doubly excited to decorate a new home. Several major elements must be determined before we can start our apartment search in earnest; the biggest of which is finding suitable renters for our house.

Because we will also be renting, I am certain that painting walls will not be an option, so the slate will quite literally be blank. Once we have our space picked out, we can start the process of determining which pieces to bring with us, and what will get left behind, or given to friends. This task seems sort of inconceivable at this moment in time. Of course, I can't help but imagine new furniture in our new space, along with the old. However, per the usual, the budget is going to be tight, actually, it's likely to be the tightest ever.

The good news is, I will be surrounded by all kinds of new design inspiration, and loads of great shopping will be within reach. I am very excited to explore each neighborhood and scout the best deals on the greatest home accessories, fabric and furniture. This move will afford me lots to blog about, no doubt. A few of the stores that I have visited only briefly, and loved, are about to see alot more of me!

Watson Kennedy
On First Ave, Watson Kennedy is a gorgeous smorgasbord of French trinkets, dishes, and stationary. While some items are a bit pricey, this is definitely the spot for those little affordable luxuries: fine soaps and lotions and pages of ancient sheet music. And, the beauty with which it is all displayed is sure to provide tons of FREE inspiration. One stop in here and I feel like I am instantly living the good life!

Hidden Hamlet plates $12.00 each.
At Anthropologie, I sometimes find myself drooling. Again, I lust after the beautiful displays full of lots of things I can't afford, but there are always some treasures worth searching for in the clearance area. And, I do not want to wholly discourage, because many of their regularly priced tabletop items are also fair.

The Anne Bonny in the Capitol Hill neighborhood offers choice vintage artwork, furniture and knickknacks. In addition to finding several funky items to pine over, I experienced an amazing in-store music performance by J. Tillman of Fleet Foxes a while back. They have moved since then, but I am really looking forward to experiencing the new space.

I have never visited Red Ticking in Madison Valley, but have always wanted to. I plan on becoming familiar with their inventory of vintage French textiles, and finding ways to apply that beautifully simple yet sophisticated aesthetic in my new place.

And there will be sooooo much more to write about. I can't wait to share all of the details with you, and to report on the progress of simplifying before the move. On to new adventures in budget decorating... always!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

subtle, warm, dramatic

Photos by Roger Davies.

The November issue of Country Living magazine holds a decorating treasure within its covers. I am in love with Caroline Scheeler's country home. As head buyer for Chicago's famous Jayson Home and Garden furniture and decor store, she has created a look that epitomizes refined rusticity. I was immediately drawn to her use of natural textures and artifacts and pleasantly surprised by the delicate drama inherent in her intuitive juxtaposition of dark and light. Who knew that neutral could go so bold?

Scheeler achieves this style by using weighty charcoal and rich chocolate as a backdrop, allowing lighter neutral pieces to pop. Or, as in her master bedroom and entryway, an application of the exact opposite combination. The sheer size and scale of the furniture and artwork she has chosen boosts the drama, while simultaneously filling the large rooms in her home with a sense of intimacy.

All white cabinetry and marble counter tops keep the kitchen's dark walls from dominating the space. It still manages to feel extremely light and airy.

The over sized scale and understated simplicity of this photo in the entryway, speaks to the decor's duality.

The hefty and intricate headboard seems to float against the pale grey-blue walls, keeping the master bedroom calm and cozy.

This collection of both reflective and textural objects is a miniature study of Scheeler's overall design aesthetic.

I am very inspired. Scheeler's home is equal parts gorgeous and livable. I think that these lessons in scale and contrast would be easy enough for any of us to apply in our own homes and on any budget. If you are ready for a decor change, instead of choosing a trendy paint color, I challenge you to consider staying neutral and making your design statement by pairing light and dark and picking size over quantity. The result might be something that is both timeless and bold. Thanks Caroline Scheeler!

Friday, September 11, 2009

the lamp shade

It turned out looking great. Just one little problem: can't seem to find the proper cord situation to use it as a pendant over the dining room table. I went to four places looking for what I needed. The closest I got was a pendant kit that I would have to wire a new socket into. Sorry, a little more advanced than I was imagining. The cord kit from IKEA that I had in mind wasn't quite right.

So, I will hunt for the right solution, but until then, here are some shots of the project. As of this moment, I have the shade on a floor lamp base

This is how the shade started out. It is really nice, just not the right colors for my house.

First I chose the pictures I wanted and started placing them. I tried using decoupage, but it would not stick to the fabric lining the inside of the shade. I ended up using masking tape, so its pretty unsophisticated, but you can't tell.

When I was done covering as much surface as I could, I was left with sort of jagged borders on the top and bottom.

I glued black grosgrain ribbon to conceal the fabric that was showing through and to make the shade look more polished.

Its sort of hard to get a photo of what the whole thing looks like finished, but trust me, it turned out pretty darn good.

And here, it casts a cozy glow on the wing chair that Basie loves to sleep in.

As further redemption that I did the right thing, look at what I found TODAY in the new issue of House Beautiful that arrived, TODAY! This is a pendant shade by Andrea Clare through The Future Perfect.

Not even joking. I saw this after I had already done it!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

a crafty respite

I need a break from work. I am tired of being the dumping ground for all things in all departments and I need some time away to rejuvenate, remember the reasons why I love my job, and to reconnect with my creative and crafty side. Forget rest and relaxation. I crave creative stimulation, and the exhaustion derived from a tangible, visible, and physical accomplishment. So, this weekend I plan on tackling several decorating and crafting projects, hoping to complete at least half of them.

A glimpse of what I may or may not be doing:

Creating a drum pendant fixture for the dining room. Supplies: random lamp shade, old book of photos and a light kit from IKEA.

Painting the dining room a more neutral shade. I tired of the orange dreamscicle color.

Rearranging furniture, yet again. This time, it will be done with the intent of squeezing a drawing studio into the office.

Making a simple slipcover for my way-too-formal looking velvet covered ottoman.

Its a lot, I know. I might even end up doing other projects than those listed above, for as much as I try, I suck at planning. I usually end up either in over my head, or doing something half-assed at the last minute. No kidding. Nonetheless, I will try to stick to my goals and keep you abreast of any progress that I make! Are you planning any home-dec projects for the long weeend ahead?

Monday, August 3, 2009

what i found at the b.i. auction

This year's Bainbridge Island Rotary auction (albeit over a month ago), was almost a turn off. I don't think I will ever get there at 8am again. Witnessing the rush to be the first to get the "best" stuff made me a little ill. Greedy, junk obsessed people where swarming the place. I was sort of ashamed to be one of them!

I'm not denying that there aren't enough great finds for everyone, but the mob scene made me rethink every purchase I made while I was there(do I really need this?). And don't let anyone ever tell you that getting there early gets you a better parking spot. I parked a good 1/2mile from the site!

That said, I still walked out of there with some really good stuff for rock bottom prices. Let me share with you what I brought home, and how I fit the items into my decor.

This black and white framed ink drawing of Seattle's Lake Union houseboat community found a place on the wall in the TV room. It was just $7!

I found a pair of Root's dinner pillar candles (.50 cents for both), in the pumpkin color and scent that I so predictably love. The gorgeous table runner featuring Amy butler fabrics that my mom quilted, acts as the perfect color foil.

This little hand-thrown pottery vase looks so at home amongst the other objects already accessorizing my bookcase. Can't beat the $3 price tag.

And... the crowning jewel: the oak drop leaf pedestal table I scored for $20. A piece like this has been on my wish list for a long time. I haven't decided whether or not to paint it or strip it and stain it, or to just leave it as it is. Very pleased with this one, I must admit.

Well, that's it. And I only spent $30.50! Pretty darn amazing. As for the event itself, I have not entirely ruled out attending the sale next year. I'll just plan on lingering over breakfast with my husband, taking my time watering the plants, and then making my way to Bainbridge after 10am, when the really good deals happen, and the grabby hands are too tired to fend me off!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

coziness in june

Photo from

This is a living room I have admired for a long time: Barbara Westbrook's design for Traditional Home's Atlanta Showhouse series. I liked it so much, a while back, I created a design board inspired by it for a contest on I did not win. Nonetheless, there were so many elements of that room that I craved in my own home. Let me share how I implemented them in my new living room arrangement.

I loved the combination of looks: casual and sophisticated, natural and structured. I moved my seating area to the center of the room to create a better dynamic for conversation and a vibe of pure coziness. I switched out my modern wool rug for a jute one with loads of natural texture.

The color palette in this area is now a little more subdued and earthy. The symmetry of the furniture's positioning reads as sophisticated.

I brought my bench in from the dining room, grouped it with a rug from the bedroom, and my bookcase to fashion an entry area. The pattern on the rug brings in a geometric element, much like the lines on the coffee table and throw pillows in the inspiration room.

I am really enjoying the feeling of two separate spaces being carved out of this one room, and yet its still inviting.

There are several other things I would love to do if I had the budget, but for now, this is just perfect. Making do with what I already have provides a certain level of satisfaction that seems to whet my appetite for change just enough... until next time!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

the light bulb switches on

Okay, here I am. Ready to get back into this. My new goal: break the 100 postings mark. I am so close, its not even funny. This will be my 98th! I apologize for not having posted in such a long time. Its not for lack of decorating ideas though, seriously. My creative mind never really stops ticking, and most of the time, its actually pretty darn annoying.

The initial problem enters when I look at magazines and other blogs to get inspired, and instead, feel defeated. There is so much already being done out there, and I have been somewhat dormant for a while. Then, in lieu of rising to the occasion and putting my ideas in writing, or working them out in reality at home, I succumb to the notion that I have nothing to add. What's the point, so many other people are doing it and they do it so much better than me...Well, whatever, I am SO over the self pity party. THAT too, has been done before.

I want to start fresh, in a way. I often get frustrated because I just can't afford to complete every project and buy all the items on my wish list. But then: I have to remember: this is a blog ABOUT decorating on a budget. This is a blog about doing what you can with what you have, being inventive, and decorating with a LITTLE, rather than ALOT. I don't want to encourage you to just go out and buy what's trendy. No, no my friends, that would be way too easy. Besides, where is the creative expression in that? Nope, its not about making your home look exactly like a page in a design magazine, but a reflection of your personality and a shelter for your creature comforts, all the while communicating good design.

So, I am back with refocused energy. How can we ultimately create spaces that make us feel alive or relaxed or cozy or content, without spending big bucks? With a little vision and a random dose of bargain hunting karma, it can happen.

My challenge for you this week is this:
Find a picture in a magazine of a room you LOVE. Pinpoint the elements of this space that you admire. For example: light and airy, a good furniture arrangement,a unique color combination, interesting uses of texture and fabrics, a nice balance of modern and traditional, etc. Then look at your space with fresh eyes and get creative. What can you do to achieve these elements with what you already own, or by adding some inexpensive decorating finds?

I will do the same, and show you what I can come up with next week. This could be really fun assignment! Feel free to email me your ideas and I will be happy to provide input. Good luck!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

RAGS again!

Hooray! Spring and summer flea markets, garage sales and auctions are just around the bend. Next weekend's Kitsap Rotary Annual Garage Sale will help to jump start the season. One day only, Saturday, April 18th, you'll be able to prowl the Kitsap County Fairgrounds for trash and treasure. The sale starts at 8am and ends at 2:30 pm, so be sure and get there early to snatch up the good stuff. There won't be time for second thoughts! A silent auction will also take place on the grounds.

I know I wrote about this last year, but here are a couple of refresher tips to be properly prepared for treasure hunting:
1. Bring a list or notebook of measurements regarding project ideas. (Like wall dimensions for art work or a head board)
2. Bring your tape measure.
3. Paint chips and fabric swatches, just in case.
4. Your digital camera with photos of rooms needing certain pieces.
5. CASH!
6. Water and snacks to keep in the car if you plan on spending the better part of your day "sale-ing"!

Remember my finds from last year?

The $5 upholstered headboard. I covered it with a $20 twin quilt from TJ Maxx and a roll of nailhead trim.

The $10 office chair that I painted light blue.

An art book I purchased for $2, from which I pulled prints out and framed for the gallery wall.

Another side of the RAGS event to consider: donating things to be sold. You can drop off salable items on site at the pavilion on Monday April 13th starting at 1pm. This is a great way to get rid of clutter and be green! Check out their site for more details on donating.

There's no telling what might be found at these sales, so keep an open mind. I wish I could go next weekend, but I will be out of town! If anyone out there ends up going good luck, and send us pictures of your finds!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

wanted: industrial organic chic

Hope lives in a classic Victorian apartment in San Francisco. She recently wrote to me about her small bathroom, and the design challenges it poses. She needs privacy from her neighbors, the sink is unsightly in more ways than one, and the space lacks the pulled together look she wants.

While Hope and her husband prefer different decorating styles, she used the words "industrial organic" to describe the aesthetic they both like. Splashes of earthy browns, warm oranges and leafy greens are found throughout their home. They favor contemporary over shabby chic. So, here's my input on how they can achieve the look they are after in their bathroom.

Let's start with a big design statement. The Amanda shower curtain by Bliss Living boasts a graphic but organic pattern in green and brown. Its modern punch provides a great counterpoint to the classic claw foot tub.

A design this large in scale tricks the eye and expands the space. Like a work of art, the functions as the room's focal point. The browns in the pattern will actually complement the hues on the sink, helping it recede, rather than stick out.

For the windows, I would suggest making a fabric panel the same width of the window, and half its total height. Hang this from a suspension type curtain rod at the middle of the window, like a cafe curtain. Use plain white cotton or linen, which will provide privacy, but still let some light in.

Make a similar panel to cover the whole open self situation above the sink. Keeping the look clean and tidy. Maybe you could even mount a large rectangular mirror on some hinges and make a vanity door?

Pottery Barn's organic bath linens come in a great pale green, lending a pop of color to the bathroom. The towels run from $8-$24. If you don't want to spend quite that much, I have found that Target offers a nice variety of soft greens in their various towel collections.

The storage cabinet that Hope currently uses looks and functions just fine, but reads more traditional, as oppposed to clean and contemporary.

Replacing it with one of West Elm's teak bath towers would add that organic element Hope and her husband like. The open shelves keep things breeezy.

Wire baskets by CB2 would help contain smaller items, with an industrial edge. Alternatively, scrounge antique shops for the authentic versions in different sizes.

To complete the updated and natural vibe in the bathroom, put a jute runner on the floor to tie all of the elements together. This chunky design by Pottery Barn fits the need perfectly.

These pieces work together to add warmth and edge to the bathroom. Good luck Hope! Let us know what you think!

Friday, February 27, 2009

serious about pickling

I am revisiting the idea of pickling my dining table. I am still seeing whitewashed and limed oak furniture, and have begun some more serious research on the processes themselves.

My second hand trestle style dining table.

For starters, I have yet to identify what type of wood my table is. I'd like to think I am not totally ignorant to the main differences of wood species, but I am stumped. It seems too soft to oak, but too hard to be pine. I am certain that its not mahogany or cherry, but could it be fir or beech? It is definitely not maple. I'll have to ask my father-in-law over for coffee soon, I think he could ID it if pressed.

Any ideas as to what type of wood this is?

I would like to get this settled before I choose a finish, as each technique performs differently depending on the wood type. Also, which process is easiest? Truth be told, I don't want to half-ass this one, but I am not looking for a serious upper body work out either.

Briwax sells their liming wax for only $15 online.

WhateverI choose, I will most likely need to strip the original finish off first. This is a step I am not looking forward to. I may even need to do some sanding and use a little wood-fill here and there. This table has seen better days and also has a couple of warped areas. The surface seems thirsty to absorb any drop of liquid- it tends to favor oily salad dressing and red wine. The grain has even taken on a glamorous sheen, thanks to the glitter from this year's artsy Christmas cards.

I defintiely have plenty of time to really plan this out, as it will be a stinky, outdoor project. I just wanted to get it in writing so you guys can hold me to it. Plus, I thought maybe someone out there has done it, and could offer some advice. Remember how pretty Pottery Barn's Shelton series was? I think my table has the potential to really come into its own with a similar finish.

Pottery Barn's Shelton dining table (may no longer be available).