Sometimes I look around and lament the fact that almost all
of my furnishings and accessories are comprised of other peoples
old things. I do love vintage and shopping secondhand, but I also
don’t want my home to look dated and dowdy. I’d like to just go out
and buy a clean-lined sofa and coffee table and a
few shiny new accessories, to impart a more modern aesthetic.
However, my real life budget holds me back from those larger
purchases. So, I’m always looking for small ways to
add bits of modern appeal.
I’ve come up with a plan to do a beach inspired photo display in
the dining room. I’m not sure if it will be a gallery
wall or if I’ll spread them out around the room, since I don’t have
tons of wall space. I’ve taken quite a few beach photos throughout
the years, of the different coasts I’ve visited. I might also
add a few Etsy finds into the mix. I’d frame them all in
simple, white picture frames. I think that photos like these will
mesh well with the dining
nook fabrics I chose last week.
I’ve been side-tracked with other home design and
organizing projects and neglected my dream of a relaxed, global but
beachy feeling dining room. There are several projects that need to
be completed in order to fulfill this vision. The first was
refinishing the dining table, which I described in a previous
The second project on the list was creating pillows and a dining
bench cushion, for a cozier dining nook. I finally ordered some
fabric, and the patterns are NOT what I was planning on. A while
back I wrote a post on
combining fabric patterns, and highlighted the prints that
I intended to use. This is what I had pulled together:
These are the prints I ended up ordering today:
In the end, I wanted the colors to feel brighter and happier. I
always gravitate towards pale aqua and soft apricot as a pairing,
and it seemed I was forcing the other color pallete a bit. This is
how I’ll use each fabric.
Truly, I’d like to somehow add a back to the bench, to make it
more comfortable to sit on for longer periods of time. I’m thinking
of finding a headboard to re-purpose and attach to it. The
other elements I’ll add to pull the design together include
painting my bookcases white and adding in some more modern decor
accessories. I’m going to start with the bench project and I’ll
keep you updated.
Our house is 95 years old. We live in a very modest 900 square
feet upstairs, and need to use every square inch of our mostly
unfinished basement. Previous owners had chopped up the space into
small chunks, and until recently, we were using almost every area
as just storage space. With our family of four seemingly outgrowing
our house, and my husband and I each spending hours working from
home, our basement must now function as additional living
I have made it my mission this year, to carve out little zones
for our various activities. I also need to purge and
organize each area and get it looking as good as an
unfinished basement can, on a tiny budget. You can do this in your
small home too. Just really consider the way you live and what you
want to actually do in your space. These are the zones we need for
our small house to really work well for us:
Storage for toys, off-season items, and momentos
Music area for drums and piano
Office for me
Art studio for Thomas and Lucy
Project space and tool storage
Lawn care items and extra furniture storage
Office for Chris
While I know where all of the areas will be, and some zones are
already serving their purpose, there’s a lot of work to be done
before I share more before and after photos with you.
So for the time being, I’ll show you how the music area is
Removing the odd shelving and painting the mismatched walls
white totally transformed the drum nook.I still need to paint the
wall by the piano, change the light fixture above the drums and
hang some pegboard near the drums, for storage of other instruments
and drum hardware.I’ll surely be posting more photos as I complete
Many of you might love the look of a salon-style gallery wall,
with a cozy mash up of art and family photos, but may feel
intimidated by how to get the right look. My friend Kim was in the
same boat. She had all of the pieces she wanted, but needed help
coming up with the right configuration, so that the wall would feel
balanced. Here is the process we went through to get it right.
Lay out all of the pieces on the floor in front of the wall they
will hang on. Play with the configuration until you achieve a
sense of balance. Consider the largest pieces first, they will
naturally be your anchors. If you have just one larger piece, it
might look best in the center, with the smaller pieces surrounding
it. Kim had two larger pieces, so we split them up, essentially
dividing the wall into three equal zones. Also
scrutinize the use of color in the pieces. Kim had dashes of
red that we wanted to sprinkle through-out.
Now use a roll of butcher or art paper and trace around each
piece, then cut it out. Make marks on the front of the paper that
indicate where the hooks or hangers are located. Using painter’s
tape, adhere these to the wall in roughly the same configuration
you had on the floor.
Move them around until they look and feel right. You want to
consider the negative space between just as much as the pieces
themselves. Keep the spacing as equal as you can. Use a ruler if
you need to, or just eyeball it. Step back and look at it from a
Allow for the furniture that will be under the pieces. Kim’s
sofa was 36″ high. We left nine inches of space between the top of
the sofa and the bottom of the art work. You need a bit of
breathing room so you won’t knock a piece down, but you don’t want
your art so far above that the furniture, that it feels
disconnected and un-grounded.
Once you have the paper exactly where you want it, check that
your marks for the hangers are level and centered before driving in
any nails. Use picture hooks or regular nails for smaller things,
and larger picture hooks or drywall anchors and screws for heavy
pieces. Hang a couple of the larger pieces as you go to make sure
you like where the grouping is headed. Remove the paper once you
have the nails or hooks in place.
Hang your art!
While making the paper mock-ups is a bit laborious, I think it
saves time in the end. It also saves you from making too many
errant holes in the wall. We ended up only needing to move one
piece up a few inches from where our first hole was, due to its
weight once hanging. The red “R” though, was another story.
The hanging holes were in odd spots, and it was extremely
difficult to get that letter level! Lots of holes for that one, in
fact, I lost count. Good thing Kim was already planning on giving
that room a new coat of paint, after our hanging day! She can patch
the holes then.
The salon-style wall is such a good looking way to fill a big
blank wall with character and to display a collection of art or
photos. You can match all of the frame and mat styles, or go rogue
and make it an artful mix. I just love the way a wall like this
adds a layer of coziness and personality to a room.
Almost exactly seven years ago, I found the kitchen of my dreams
in this Cottage Living magazine. This space, it seemed, was a
literal interpretation of the kitchen remodel I’d been
concocting inside my head since we’d moved in. The reuse of
existing cabinetry, the space planning, the color pallette and
solid surface choices. All of it. Seven years later, Cottage Living
is no longer in existence, in fact this kitchen was featured in
their last issue, but I still have the same vision for the
kitchen, and sadly, still no budget to revamp it.
I’d like to share why I love this kitchen so much.
1. It’s not a totally white kitchen. This issue of the magazine
was published when the all- white kitchen trend was beginning, and
as that look is becoming less and less of-the-moment, this
kitchen’s color scheme would have aged gracefully. The olive green
of the lower cabinets has a hint of grey so they feel contemporary,
and it’s nice to have a bit of contrast to the white uppers.
2. The arched opening. I would love to do this with my
kitchen, to allow more light into the space, as it is north-facing
and in the center of our home. An opening there, would allow me
create peninsula for the stove and perhaps an eat-up
counter on the living room side. Doing an arched opening, versus a
rectangular one, would be in keeping with the architectural
character of homes built in the 1920’s, like ours.
3. The use of wood on the floor and counters. Wood adds instant
warmth to a space. I know there is hardwood under the many
layers of ugly linoleum flooring in my kitchen. I’d totally rip
that up myself, but the older layers most likely contain asbestos
and that needs to be removed by professionals, which is costly.
Someday, I’d also love to replace our outdated Formica
counter tops with either walnut butcher block or soap stone or
4. Sensible budget choices. This designer, Anne Turner
Carroll, saved her cabinets, but re-hung the uppers flush with
the ceiling, to allow room for an open shelf underneath. She
painted them and put on new hardware. The subway tile backsplash is
a classic look, but easy on the budget. I would lay mine in a
herringbone pattern, and use a light grey grout.
It can be frustrating, having this vision and not being able to
put it into action. I know that my kitchen has so much potential to
function better and look stunning. While I have painted the
cabinets and walls, that is about it, and that was years ago. The
paint is wearing off the edges of the cabinets, and its time for a
refresh. I’d love to add hardware to the doors and drawers too.
Maybe that will be the next project I tackle. Here is a glimpse of
kitchen as it is now; hover over each photo to
read descriptions of my vision.
I guess the upside is that my dream kitchen is yet to come, and
that the ideas I’ve cemented in my brain have a timeless appeal.
All this means, is that it will look fabulous whenever I get
around to making it happen!
Hey there! Here is a
link to my column this month, all about how vintage furnishings
and collections add soul to your home. I hope that you enjoy it and
feel inspired to search for pieces that speak to your personality
too. You’ll also find a list of some of my favorite local shops to
hit up for vintage treasure,
What are the differences between a “decorated” home and an
authentic one? How can I make my home feel more like a reflection
of who I am, who my family is, and be less concerned with it just
looking pretty? These are the types of soul-searching questions I
have been pondering lately. Don’t be fooled, I also want my home to
look beautiful, but I want it to feel real, lived-in, and happy.
Not contrived. One of the ways I personalize my home is through
This Sunday, in the Life section of the Sun, I’ll touch on the
idea of adding vintage soul to your home; how mixing furnishings
from different time periods give a home character and how
collections of vintage accessories speak to your personality. Even
refinishing an old piece creates a story and can imbue your
environment with authenticity. How does vintage inspire your life
Love that eclectic, but pulled together look of a room that has
multiple fabric patterns on various surfaces? Me too. I like how
multiple prints in a room lends a layered, welcoming
vibe. Truly, I just love fabric, pattern and color in general,
and over the years I’ve hit on how to balance it all, without
making it feel like a visual assault.
I have plans to cover my dining bench in cushions and pillows to
create a spot for reading, working and lingering over dinner. The
color pallet is three parts indigo blue, one part poppy and
one part golden pumpkin. My goal is for the nook to have a
global-bohemian appeal, and to feel casual and cozy. Here are the
fabrics I am choosing and how they work together.
1.Choose a print that incorporates most of the colors you intend
to use in the space. This fabric or pattern will lead you
through choosing all of the others. For me, this is a fabric by
Robert Allen, with a medium-scale ikat pattern, that I will use for
a pillow or two for the dining bench.
2. Play with scale. This next fabric has a very large-scale
paisley pattern, which I love. It will also be on pillows for the
dining bench. A pattern like this would also look amazing on
drapery panels. Conversely, I plan to use a small-scale dot print
for the bench cushion, which will help in hiding crumbs and the
3. Pull out accents from your main fabric. The first fabric
has little hits of poppy red and golden apricot. I’ll use these
next two fabrics to warm and brighten up the room. They will
provide a happy foil to the all of the cool blues.
4. Provide a place for your eye to rest. Bring in a solid with
texture, to balance all of the pattern. I like this linen blend for
its softness and warm hue. I’ll use it on a lumbar pillow for the
Mixing patterns is all about balancing scale and color.
Repetition of the same hue in several fabrics weaves a common
thread, while introducing pops of complementary colors provides
warmth. Using patterns of varying scale, but with a
similar theme (ikat), creates visual variation, but not
discord. I hope that you’re now inspired, not intimidated, to
combine different fabrics to add charm and cheer to your