Lazy Update

I promised a write up with before and after’s on Instagram,  I will still do that, I’m just not organized right now. I will share the before and after of the kitchen- All I did here was change the curtains. That’s it. Instant room update! I liked the old ones fine, not a thing wrong with them but over the course of 7 years, my taste has changed a bit and I wanted something new. I’m thrilled. This update ran about $150, I don’t know if that’s more or less or about what you’d expect, just throwing it out there.




And here are the new panels!





So, photo overkill, I know. But the way my house is laid out, you can see these windows form almost everywhere. So, that’s it, easy as can be! Total new look, or matching look, since I got the same ones that have been in my living room.

Curtain’s are West Elm.


You did what?

My story behind the bicycle wheels featured today on Apartment Therapy.

I often get the raised eyebrow when explaining my decorating ideas.   My sister doesn’t get it,  my Mom has undone her space after I’ve flown back to my side of the country.   People ask for advice, which I think is a sign they like what I’m doing but in the end they don’t usually take it.  

Since moving into this house a few years ago my taste has gone toward mixing old finds with shiny new stuff.  Add trying to make it all work in a cookie cutter suburban home it’s not that easy to visualize when it’s not your taste or anything you’ve seen done before.  Mason Jars as photo frames, chicken coup as a toy bin, etc..

Last week I rescued some bicycle wheels from my neighbor’s trash.  This took me way out of my comfort zone.  I like to pay for my “garbage” at thrift stores.  Taking my neighbors actual garbage made me twitch a little as this is a couple whom we welcome into our home.  Well, until now anyway.  Once inside I wasn’t sure what I would do with them; but they looked cool and taking them was a pretty good idea.  Plus they were free and said neighbor wasn’t home to see me scurry across his driveway.

I wiped them down a bit and because I didn’t have any other idea at the time I propped them up on the bookcase in the den feeling pretty sure they’d get the old veto when Mike got home.  As the day went on I fell in love with how they looked among the traditional style of the bookcase in a room decorated with only awards,diplomas and a plain Ikea desk.  This room needs some work, curtains, a rug, an adult size chair in place of the school chair and I plan on lining the back of the bookcase but I was happy with the display so I posted it on Flickr.

 bike wheels in office



Later that night I got a message from a contributing editor for Apartment Therapy asking if she could feature the photo.  I was shocked, it was garbage, technically stolen garbage.  Also, I was pretty excited that someone else got it. ( Maybe I do know what I’m doing.)  If my Mom knew what Apartment Therapy is she would still think this is insane.  Maybe you do, too.  What do you think, trash or treasure?


Last week was fun.  One person was really happy and the other liked my ideas but none of them worked for her space.   Which is really too bad but a realistic issue when you try to help people via email and bolgging without seeing the space in person.  However, I loved it and would love to keep it up.  Maybe once every two weeks I will check in and see if anyone wants to talk decorating.

Is there anything you’d like to ask this week?  It can be anything at all: any room, any issue.  I’d be so happy to help.

Space Planning and Color Choices

I woke up at 4 am and before I even hit the bathroom I was thinking about this post.  How to answer the questions without blowing my entire wad- give just the advice that pertains to the specific question.  I don’t see that happening.   Go grab a snack, this may take a few minutes.

 AJU5’s Mom asked what to do with a 2nd sofa.  She gave some crazy directions that actually worked for my drawing up her actual space.  With N-E-S-W locations for what was in the room.  Ultimately I asked for her to confirm my own drawing and she sent me a work up- which I regret that I am not able to upload it here.  Without it this could be hard to follow.   I think the 2nd sofa should go just in front of your french doors allowing for foot traffic behind it.  The reason I choose this location is that this is her Family Room.  Where they watch TV- I think the couch should look toward the TV rather than in the direction of the fireplace.   I would place the two chairs opposite, looking toward the fireplace.  Here comes the extra.  She mentioned that this will also be her 1 year olds primary play space and that they may do a bookcase or two near the TV to house her things.   That is fine, it will work.  But, I have two other ideas.   They have a built in (or are building in) a nook with a bench.  I think it would be great to put hidden storage both below the bench, and above near the ceiling.    Make the bottom easily accessible for little hands with sliding doors or just large baskets that can slide underneath.   The top can be used for anything, books that she isn’t ready for yet, board games, or little trinkets you want to display.  If you are building this from scratch, you could cover it with doors, too.  Another idea is the back SE corner of the room.  This area seems like it will go unused and be more of a walkway.  I think this would be a great little area to set up a low lying bookcases one on each wall creating a L shape for her.  Create a little area where she can read and play- an area away from the AV equipment where her chubby  little fingers will be opening andclosing the DVD player.  It will be behind the living area and out of sight when its just Mom and Dad or guests.   Which is really nice, you don’t always want to see all of their toys.  With that and if you use the space provided by the built ins this room can look neat and mostly adult when you want to relax.  Lastly and also unsolicited, I would choose a fabric that you love for that bench and make a throw pillow (or many) for your couches.   A really easy and fun way to help each side of the room relate to each other.


BessieViola asked about how to add accent colors, and about window treatments.   So far she is working with a very neutral palate.   A warm beige color on her walls and  sage green sofas.  Bessie is a brand new reader and I don’t know a thing about her taste so this one is going to cover a lot.  She is either afraid of color or just not sure where to start.  Hopefully this will help.  Bess, If you want me to tell you what to do, I can, but I will have to see photos of your space first.

So, what do you do when your living in a neutral space.  

1. Color Story.   Take a walk around the surrounding rooms.  Kitchen, dining, the main areas of your house.   Do they speak to each other?  Is there a color that repeats in every room, or do you live in a box of crayons with each room a different color?  (not that there’s anything wrong with that)  If you see that yellow, or brown or insert color here is showing up in every area that’s a great place to start.  Keeping a few colors throughout maintains a cohesive feel.  Like you thought about flow, flow is good. 

2. Do you have a favorite?   Seriously, its that easy.  Do you have a favorite color?  Use it!  Pale green and beige are pretty safe, you can put most colors with green.  Lets say for argument sake that your favorite color is green, that’s why you choose your couch.  I say- awesome!  You’re already on your way.   And you say- “But I still don’t know where to start.”   You have a few options.  Go bold, go earthy, go beachy/victorian/modern.   Think about that for a bit.   Stop thinking about just color and think about style and feel.   If you choose earthy, get more green, emerald, moss, and throw in some browns and cream.    You want beach like- go with pale blues, whites and khaki and add texture with a throw, get a wooden bowl for the table, buy a bag of starfish and put them in a clear vase.  (Less is more with Themes- BE CAREFUL!)  So my point is if you can nail down a style it may help ideas start to flow.

3. Inspiration:  Is there something in your room that you are in love with?   A pillow, a picture frame, a candle, the color of your dogs chew toy.  It can be anything!  If something moves you, go with it.  Often times one tiny item can shape a whole room.  If you don’t have this item, yet.   Start looking.   Inspiration is free, don’t be intimidated by high end stores. Try your local junk shops too.  These can be just as fun.  Get in there and check things out.  

Her other question was about window coverings and she mentioned that her room has 5 windows.  Without knowing what these look like Im gonig to take another stab here.

I think curtains are really important in any room.  Next to paint they are the easiest thing to add to a room for instant change.   There are a lot of options out there.    Good and bad.  I lean heavily toward regular curtains, not blinds, nothing puffy or fussy.  I think that no matter your taste this is the best way to go.  Please, for the love of cheese do not put up a valance.  It is 2009.  I know these were in, I had mini blinds and valances in my room in HS and on purpourse but the 90’s are over, and no, they are not calling for your scrunchies OR your vanlances’! 

Think about why you want to cover your windows. Is it because your room is cold, because they look naked, or for function.  Maybe all 3.    This can help you decide what type will work for you.  Cold?  Long insulated panels.  Naked, then your looking for something purely decorative- you’ve opened a can of worms,  function,  you need something that slides open and closed easily, maybe up off the floor if pet hair is a concern-maybe a simple roman shade is your answer.  There is a ton to think about if you are having a hard time with just going shopping and grabbing what you want.  

The moral of the story with both color and the curtains, is get out there.  Start looking at what is available.  Don’t be afraid to pick up 6 throw pillows and 8 window panels and bring them home to see how the look in your space.  Take them back if they don’t work and do it again.  Eventually you will get it right.  If you love it, it works.  It doesn’t matter what your Mom or sister or neighbors Uncle think, it’s your home and if it makes you smile then it’s perfect!  And when you figure it out that’s when your house really starts to feel like home.

Anybody else have a question?  Should I do this every once in a while or let it die?


This house has been cursed the last few days.  Sick dog, teething baby who will not nap and wakes at the crack of dawn.  He is cranky, I am cranky.  However, today I found the magic dose of Motrin for the molar and eyetooth combo this poor guy is dealing with and he slept for a glorious 2.5 hours! 

Rather than take a shower and brush my teeth I decided to wrap up the bathroom project.  I got the last coat of white paint on and the decals up.  I ordered the decals from an Etsy store and I love them.   I am really excited about how it turned out.  They were so easy to use and fun to arrange.  Another awesome part is they just peel off when you are going to move or want a new look.  Such a cool way to change the look of a small and boring bathroom.