Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Changing it up!

After the holidays, I pulled down all of the Christmas decorations and left everything bare for a little while. Obviously, given my decorating ADD, that didn't last all too long. The buffet in the dining room felt huge and empty with nothing on the surface. I wanted to create a little tabletop vignette that didn't feel season-specific, and that I could stick with for a while. Here's what I put together:


There are some wintry hints, but nothing too literal, since I want to be able to leave it alone for a while.


That is one of my favorite photos of me and B, in a frame that I fell in looove with at TJ Maxx. (Oh, the Maxx. How I love and loathe you all at the same time.) The print in the back was my mother's from ages ago. I've always liked it, and the colors are almost exactly the same as in the area rug under the dining table. That silver vase stuck around after Christmas, when it was stuffed with sparkly stuff, and I added some texture with those balls in a vase.

On the other end of the buffet are some apothecary jars, which I love even when they're empty:


I added some cinammon sticks, but this could easily be switched up and anything could be added... candy hearts for Valentine's Day, leafy sprigs and wildflowers if the two billion feet of snow ever melt this spring... anything you want.

The prints in the frame are one of my favorite pieces I own. I made them years ago. They're polaroid emulsion transfers, made from old slides. The one on top is of my mom in the 70s, at Niagara Falls. She has enormous super sweet glasses on in it. (Love ya, Mums!)


I'm really happy with this general setup, so maybe my design ADD won't rear its ugly head and everything will stay in one place for a while... ha ha, yeah right. :)


OH, I also don't think that I ever drew proper attention to the painting hanging to the right of the buffet. B and I got it at an antiques store a couple of months ago... it's an old portrait of a Saint Bernard! I know that probably makes us like crazy dog owning people or whatever, but we don't care. We both genuinely liked the painting and the frame is gorgeous walnut. It's kitschy and kind of weird, and we like it that way.

Over on the other side of the house, I switched up the shelves above the television in the living room (again). After the Christmas stockings were down, they just looked pretty bare. So I decided to shop around the house and see what I already owned that I could put up there. We still have boxes of things that haven't been unpacked, so I dug around and had actually forgotten about some stuff!


Those three ceramic vases I picked up for $1 each, I think. They're each a different texture and they look exactly like the Ikea ones that I've seen pop up around some design magazines.


In "shopping my house" and making use of what I already have, I found a stash of postcards that I collected while living in London. I spent a lot of time at different museums and galleries in the city (the Tate Modern and National Gallery were my favorites) and I'd buy a few postcards from the gift shops here and there. The one in the frame above is of a Gilbert & George installation. Amazing stuff. I have a bunch of different cards, so it will be fun to switch them out from time to time.


I also dug out this woodblock painting that I bought a number of years ago from a local artist in Portsmouth. The colors are so vibrant, it just makes me happy.


So there you have it. Everything un-Christmas-ified, and probably staying put for a while. Did anyone else feel the itch to ditch their holiday stuff pronto?

In other news, we've been getting dumped on with snowstorm after snowstorm around here. Lucy is loving it, of course, but I don't know how much more I can take! Here she is just soaking it up during one of the (many) storms last week:


(Oh, and see that tiny sliver of reddish wood near the fence back there? That's the retaining wall that we built this summer. It's about 2 1/2 to 3 feet high, and you can barely see it at all... When is spring, again?)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Total Transformation: The Office

I did a quick painting project on a small bookshelf for my office last night (which I'll show you in a bit), and it got me thinking that I really should fully document that room's renovation in a post.

I started digging through the pictures that we took of the house before and right after we closed, and I honestly had kind of forgotten how much of a total shithole this house was. Seriously, most sane people would have walked in and bolted out the front door. But, luckily, we saw the massive potential in this place and decided to take a chance. But man oh man, it was a complete dump.

The family we bought the house from had owned it for over 50 years. After the mother passed away, the family rented it out. When we went to look at it, there was a family renting it with two small children. I can't even imagine letting a child sleep in this place the way it was. Yes, it was bad.

Be prepared, the next few pictures are not for the faint of heart.

This is the office before closing, when it was a little girl's "bedroom":


The water damage was from years before and the roof had since been replaced. But the room still had corroded wallpaper, paneling on one wall, dirty lace curtains, and generally looked like a crack house.

After closing, when the room had been cleared out and the tenants had moved, it was still a scary sight.


As with the rest of the house, we pulled down the ceilings, walls, and paneling and put up fresh new sheet rock.

Here's the room after it had been sheetrocked and primed:


The transformation was already astounding. Then came the paint, in a cream color that I selected. I forget the exact name now, it was "beach" something. It's a nice color... cheery but not overpowering.


And here's the office now, completely new and without any trace of the prior disgustingness...



It's not so bad spending my 40 hours a week working in here now... :)

Remember that the desk started off as just a simple unfinished wood piece that we finished and customized.


Branden finished it in a dark stain and I found a fun clock knob to add to the front.


Around the same time I also painted an ugly laminate bookcase and added a patterned fabric to the back.



It was a big pain in the butt, involving lots of polyurethane, but I'm really happy with the way it turned out.


I also used the same fabric to cover the bulletin board next to the window and tie everything together.

So that brings me to the project I worked on last night, that you can see a sneak peek of in one of the above photos.

I've had this little bookcase for ages, and back when I was probably 13 or 14 I decided to "enhance" it by adding some gold metallic paint to it...


Since then, I've moved it around with me from apartment to apartment but never did anything else to it. A couple of fresh coats of white paint later, and it looks very different!


It's a nice space to display some things in my office, and pretties up that corner a bit more, which I'm always a fan of.

In case the earlier pictures weren't enough torture for you, here's a view of this side of the office back before we closed and the renters were still using it as a trash heap living here:


...and now...


It's really hard for me to believe that this is the same room, or the same house for that matter, as when we bought the house in June. It's only been seven months!

I hope to do more of these "total transformations" posts for each room in the house, so stay tuned for those!

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Happy 2011! That sounds weird still. We had a wonderful Christmas with lots of sah-weeet food, presents, and family time. My favorite gift was a gorrrgeous diamond pendant necklace that Branden gave me. He's such a good boyfriend. :)

Right around New Years I got the itch to start de-Christmas-ifying the house. I love the sparkle and festivity of the holidays, but after a while it gets to be too much. After everything was taken down and tucked in bins the house instantly felt so much calmer and more spacious. I'm loving it.

In a crazy cleaning spurt, I decided to move the telephone table (remember how we refinished it?) into the corner of the living room where the Christmas tree was. And I instantly loved it. Somehow sticking it in that corner made the room feel much bigger! I'm guessing because it draws your eye to the corner and just how large the room actually is.


Now, I've been thinking and planning even more updates. First of all I want to buy a pair of matching chairs with a smaller footprint to replace that beige one and the black leather recliner on the other side of the room (I hate that chair). I'm toying with the idea of an art gallery wall on the right-hand wall. And I love the look of a sunburst mirror above the sofa (even though B isn't a fan, he might get overruled....)

Here is my game plan:


(Please excuse my poor Photoshopping/cloning... I was being lazy.)

I've been eyeing the Tullsta chairs at Ikea (above) and at $99 each they're super affordable. I have no idea what they're like in person though, so they could be super flimsy. I'll have to see.

The spot next to the TV where the telephone table used to be was a little bare, so I plopped down a red ottoman that we had there as a placeholder. I'm not sure what will end up living there (if anything). For now I'm liking the more open feel of this wall without the table there:


I'd like to add another Tullsta chair (or something similar) to this side of the room where the recliner now lives. Here's roughly what it would look like:


If Branden had his way we would have a cigar store Indian or taxidermy standing black bear in that spot, so I'd better figure it out soon...