May 27, 2010

Okay now... one thing at a time!

Confession: I'm a bit of an ADHD beautiful-things-loving, penny-pinching, and gotta-be-in-the-mood-to-make-stuff kinda gal, and I think you could say that I've been in the mood in the month of May. I've been running the junk circuit from thrift stores to CraigsList (CL) and yard sales, and been known to occasionally snag something from a trash pile if it looks like a piece I can do something with. I limit my purchases to CHEAP stuff and rarely go over $10 for one item unless it's a high quality piece of furniture, like my down-filled hand-tied slipcovered sofa, which is from Storehouse (a now defunct better-quality furniture store chain) and cost $200 off CL. The sofa is THE most comfy Sunday afternoon nap-taking sofa ever and I made up a little diddy about it to the tune of the Christmas song "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," but changed the words to "It's the Most Wonderful Sofa in the World," and you can thank your lucky stars my blog isn't loaded with audio because NOBODY would want to hear that! But I digress...

I often start my mornings, break in the afternoons, and end my evenings with perusing the latest "free" and hyper-cheap offerings on CL. You just never know what will be there. I've seen some GREAT looking stuff get gone from there and some truly GROSS looking stuff get gone from there (I assume), but you have to be ready to pick it up quickly (and don't go alone, for safety). I always have a hard time finding someone to go with me to pick up said CL items, and as a result sometimes I miss out on some good deals; but I promised the hubby and I know it's the wise move to not go alone.

So... on to my current projects... Here is my cache from a recent yard sale, for which I paid $10 (for all of it). Not the best deal of the century, but not too bad, either:

I love the lines of the table, that it has a shelf, it's sturdy, and it's round, and I just happened to need a little curvilinear form in my living room. The wood band around the top had come loose in one spot, but two finishing nails took care of that issue, and because it had no finish on it at all, I just lightly sanded it, wiped it down, and it was ready to be freshened up.

The brass lamp has a nice shape to it, but I do not greatly appreciate the aesthetics of the bright shiny brass look (in other words it is FUGLY!), so I thought I'd try spray painting it. I wasn't overly impressed with the outcome, but I will show you the end results of those pieces soon.

A little box of OLD (let's call them VINTAGE) greeting cards, which I will likely cut up and use in some projects or just frame some:


I had in mind to paint the table black (love me some painted furniture- especially black and cream, but not usually together on the same piece of course) and put it in front of the windows between two chairs, so that's exactly what I did. Here is the in-progress primed table, showing the nick on the bottom edge of the band (guess whose round table has a front AND a back side!):

and here is the table with two coats of black paint (below). The finish is perfect- JUST the right amount of sheen and it's nice and smooth. Satin latex, my friends, satin latex.

For this project, I used some leftover black (satin) paint from Porter Paints, which I already had. While I was at it, I pulled out some other items from the house that needed freshening... from left to right below: an old desk chair which I recovered once with the blue fabric you see, which the kids put a hole in of course; an odd little table I've never done anything with (there is glass that goes in the insert), a chair from my & hubby's bedroom that needs a redo, and a little corner table I got for $1 at a yard sale.

...sprinkle pixie dust and elbow grease here, and imagine the light and pleasant little sound of tinkerbell softly and gracefully flying by...

Okay, back from la-la land, the WORK had to be done, so it's all elbow grease and none of the pixie dust because I just wasn't born with that. Where some people "lightly distress" furniture, I TRAUMATIZE it! Stay tuned on that one...

Here is one of the chairs in its current condition, fresh paint and new fabric, which I got for $5 in the clearance bin at Hobby Lobby (go ME!), and have enough left of the fabric to cover a small pillow I already have, which I'll put elsewhere in the room. It is always good to repeat fabrics once or twice in the same room for continuity. The size of the fabric remnant dictated the way the pattern fell on the seat cushion, and while I would have liked to have the circles in a more "random" layout rather than so uniformly diagonally across the seat, I am pleased with it overall.

This is a gorgeous heavy-weight contemporary fabric that, paired with the traditional lines of the contrasting cream-colored chair, I am very pleased with! Haven't decided yet if I'll antique the chair with some glaze. I probably will but for now I'll live with it as is for awhile. I am churning ideas in my brain for a new bed cover but in the meantime I am using the back side of a quilt, which looks like this:

(see the circles? subtle, but they're there)
This quilt will be replaced with something I have yet to figure out. That is a project for another day(s). :-) I am really in the mood to sew lately, though, so it may be pretty soon. Below is the quilt top I made a couple of days ago for my granddaughter, Kyli (aka The Tweedle):

I like scrappy quilts and that is what I used for this cheerful Sunbonnet Sue. There are lots of fabrics in it that bring back memories- in the closeup pic you see the blue floral bonnet is from my bed linens when I was a little girl, the madras plaid is from one of my mom's shirts, the light yellow sashing is from cabinet door curtains from the laundry room/kitchen of my first house, and the black and pink polka dot fabric used for Sue's shoe is remnant fabric I used to cover a lampshade for our youngest daughter's bedroom several years ago. The retro floral border and green and white polka dot fabrics are from thrift store flat sheets ($2 each), which I bought because I didn't have scraps long enough to do the borders and didn't want to fool with piecing the borders. My mom has a huge quilting machine and when I go see her this summer we will quilt this top along with another one I made for our oldest daughter, and anything else I happen to make between now and then, like one for the grandson who is making his grand entrance to the world this November. :-)

This month, and mostly for the last couple of weeks, along with completing a few projects that have been unfinished for some time, I have been in a I MUST SEW kind of mood and have managed to not only make the quilt top for The Tweedle, but also have made some window treatments (as the Nester would say, "mis-treatments"), from sheets and scrap fabrics. Here are the results:


After with just a thrift-store smoky blue flat sheet ($1) tacked up with finishing nails on the molding and a piece of leftover lace as a tie-back:

If the sheet had been longer and wider I would have hung it higher on the wall instead of along the top of the window molding, and I would have been more okay with it just like that. As it is, however, I could not leave it without a topper as long as it is at the top of the window. This situation obviously called for a topper, which I made yesterday, and which you see standing on end on the right of the window, waiting for me to hang it. :-) The weird arch is the handle to my step ladder, which has seen many a painting adventure, as evidenced by all the white and other colored smudges all over any place that I would have grabbed while trying not to kill myself standing on it.

After (below), with my clearance bin drapery fabric valance from GoodWill ($1.60) atop the sheet (hung about 4" above the top of the window frame so that the window looks taller than it is), my $1 chandelier from a flea market, with shades I recovered with free wallpaper sample book pages (you can get free wallpaper sample books from paint stores and the like). I painted the insides of the shades metallic gold so they would really gleam and the effect is lovely at night.

Here is a before and after together forever and ever (or until I suddenly decide to repaint the room,which could be soon):

Sorry the photography is terrible- I took these pix early this morning so the lighting is not good on that side of the house, but you get the idea. The valance/topper I made, which I lined because in the afternoons the sun shines directly into this window, is a copper-brown color. Here is a pic that shows the pintuck diamond detail a little more closely, although it doesn't look nearly this orange in person. It is lovely fabric and that was really a STEAL:

Our master bathroom has come quite a long way from the all-white it used to be: a fresh coat of slightly olive green paint worked wonders to tone down all that builder's white tile- trust me, it literally visually CALMED that room down; and changing out the light fixtures and mirrors made a huge difference (post about that to come sometime later) but there is still lots to be done. Ideally, I'd like to gut the room entirely and put in new tile and a frameless glass enclosure for the shower. Since that is not in the budget any time soon, I'll have to stick to do-it-myself stuff like changing fixtures, and adding fabrics and finishes. I painted the bathroom last year, but I am already itching to repaint a different color, probably the same taupe as we used in our bedroom. I will begin changing out the fixtures as I can, to oil-rubbed bronze finishes, and have in mind to at least paint the white cabinets. BUT... one thing at a time!

May 5, 2010


Fear is a GREAT motivator and perhaps the most common. It is a cause for indecision, lack of motivation, initiative, completion, and the inevitable disappointment that results in not taking risks. I've decided it's time to STOP living in fear and GO FOR IT! This decision has brought about many changes lately, not the least of which is leaving my secure (as secure as any job can be in this day and age) position in Guest Experience Design for a theme park company (see to begin Truly Yours Design, my own residential interior design and creative services company. It has long been a dream of mine to work in residential interior design and I can tell you that in design school you learn really quickly who's "got it" and who does not; it is incredibly and immediately obvious. I also learned quickly that to me design is very personal; after all, we design for people, and what is more personal than people- duh? To be invited into someone's home is an up-close-and-personal event, and the host or hostess is being a risk-taker in a social sense.

My husband and I recently saw the movie "The Jones's."

I found this film to be an interesting sociological experiment that at first glance may seem far-fetched, but upon further thought maybe not so much. The premise is a "lifestyle" marketing family- persons who are not related by marriage or blood who live together to perform roles in their family "unit." This unit exists solely to sell a LIFESTYLE. From the tips of their perfectly styled hair to the manicured toes, all the latest and greatest gizmos, gadgets, furnishings, clothing, cars, and more, are not only displayed on a continual basis, but they are also unabashedly talked up in a way that appeals to something most everyone has too much of- pride. Using her savvy networking skills, Demi Moore portrays Mrs. Jones, the leader of the "unit," and an ambitious, marketing-driven business woman whose primary goal in life is to make "icon" status within the lifestyle selling company; with the goal of increasing the sales of each company represented (think Gucci, Audi, Fendi, etc) which is very closely tracked.

Persons who are lucky enough to be invited into this perfect home are treated to viewing (and successfully talked into lusting over) all the latest trends and most expensive items available for purchase, and I dare say that most who entered the Jones's domicile found themselves fearing their friends and neighbors' reactions if they did not purchase the same items. While this film is indeed a treat for the style visually parched, the things missing in this lifestyle-for-sale home are price tags and genuine familial love. All the newest, trendiest furnishings, accessories, jewelry, etc. are purposefully used and displayed in order to spur conversation, envy, and thus increase sales.

(Lauren Ralph Lauren Home cashmere throw)

(Poltrona Frau)

(Temple St. Clair)

I don't know about you, but I enjoy seeing the things the truly wealthy have, and how there are people out there with loads of expendable income and means to buy just about anything they want and can do anything they want to do. It's not an envy thing for me, although at times I find myself being swept away with the dream of what it would be like to sleep in a perfectly comfortable bed that doesn't hurt my back (hubby loves our bed), waking up to a room that is perfectly beautiful (master bedroom redo is in the plans), and looking out my window at a perfectly manicured lawn complete with someone else who makes it so (uh yeah, that's not going to come anytime soon); in a nutshell, being surround by all that is beautiful.

Back in the real world, rather than spending an hour deciding which YSL dress we'll wear for our next social engagement, fretting over when the newest Vahan cuff will be available for purchase, or trying to find the Sigerson Morrison flats we just bought last week in our fantastically appointed room-size closet, we spend our time scrubbing Sharpie off the front of our white Frigidaire (non-Viking, non-commercial grade) refrigerator front because our four year old decided to be artsy. Instead of plumping the perfectly scaled and down-filled artisan-created pillows on our $10,000 sofa, we spend our time scraping boogers off the walls,  digging partially eaten Cheerios, crayons, and unidentifiable objects from between the seat cushions of our 15 year old sofas that have seen much, much better days.

(abstract art created by Sarah Lawson)

I submit to you that although the things and people in my family, home, vehicle, and life in general are far from perfect, there IS beauty everywhere. There is beauty in the worn and history-laden dresser that I currently use as a bedside table; it belonged to my Grandma Lawson, who touched my life in countless and priceless ways, and every time I look at it I think of her. There is beauty in the dining set that I inherited from my mom's parents. It's not a set that I would have chosen for my house had I unlimited funds to purchase the perfect pieces for me; but every time I sit down at the table I think of Grandma and Grandpa Murray and the many warm memories of being around that table for holidays, playing Rummy, and the like. There is even beauty in the Sharpie-laden refrigerator front that belongs to my sister-in-law, because it was drawn by the hand of a precious little girl who is deeply loved. Sharpie (believe it or not) can be removed from the fridge front (thank you, Crystal for your brave foray into the realm of "let's see if it can really be done!"

post-impressionist view

My friends, there is indeed beauty everywhere- in the things that are imperfect, inexpensive, dinged, scratched, messy, and even the broken. I choose not to fear things that are imperfect because they really are not indicative of a personal failure; not to fear what people will think if they come to my house unexpectedly and there are toddler toys strewn about, stacks (gasp) of magazines and books on the shelf of my end table, dining room currently in the process of becoming an office (I think); not to fear putting things together in unusual ways because it might break a design "rule," and so on.

A couple years ago I found the bottom of an iron table in a trash pile and thought of several things it could be used for- a headboard, fireplace screen, a means of displaying photographs or artwork in an office, or with a new top made of a great piece of old wood it could be used as a table. I had the table "legs" for over a year before I finally decided to do something with it. Imagine if you can this piece right side up again and standing on the floor. It has the two smaller sides that fold backward, making the bottom of the table into a U shape like this |_____| and the open part would be against the wall. Here is what I did:

I turned it upside down, folded the sides out instead of back, and hung it on my living room wall. The iron scroll work echos the scrolls in the bar stools you can see just to the left of the wall behind the sofa, as well as the hammered iron details on the cocktail table and the scrolled leaves on the metal lampshade. The scale of it is just right for the wall. Here is my NO FEAR factor of this image: I have yet to add any photos or other objects to complete the vignette (haven't decided IF I will do that- thoughts?), you can see that I haven't completed the window treatments for my breakfast nook (in the distance, far left), the little pretties that used to sit so nicely on the cocktail table have been taken away to make room for the very mobile and agile climbing toddler that is now in our midst; AND you can see the stack of "stuff" on the end table to the right of the sofa, and the lamp is the wrong scale! It's a cozy look but it is incomplete and therefore, not perfect- BUT I am showing it to you anyway. NO FEAR!

Many of the objects in my home are handmade, re-purposed, or at the very least secondhand or hand-me-downs. I will let you into my imperfect home and share with you some design secrets that will have you looking at the things you already have in new and different ways, and as I work on projects in my home I will share them with you in the hopes that you will get some inspiration from them. You can decorate with interesting character and charm on a budget. And it doesn't have to be perfect to share with other people. Do NOT let fear of what someone will think keep you from experimenting with different design elements OR from inviting people into your home! Remember that their home isn't perfect, either.

Have no fear, my friends. There is beauty everywhere. I intend to live the rest of my life without fear of failure. So I step out in faith and without fear I move toward whatever lies ahead, embracing imperfections and all. And now, before I read, reread a hundred times, edit, fix, and make a million adjustments and analyses on every single sentence and picture, I am going to publish this post! NO FEAR!