Archive for July, 2007

25
Jul
07

What Makes a Handy Kitchen?

 I’m rethinking how our kitchen is organized.  Nothing firm in mind at this point, but I’m fishing for tips on ways to keep things “handy.”  I’m a big believer in keeping things were we use them.  We have a fairly small kitchen and we both cook so minimal crossing of paths is a good thing. 

An example: we pretty much only eat cereal and drink coffee at breakfast time, which is also when we use our mugs and cereal bowls. As a result, the cabinet over our coffee maker is our breakfast cabinet where we keep all of the cereal, bowls and mugs.   Coffee filters and coffee are both within an arms reach.  No steps, which is good for me in the morning since I can barely walk before 8:30. 

Anyway, those are the kinds of step-saving tips I’m looking for.  I’m also looking for kitchen cabinet organization and space saving advice.  Don’t assume something will be too obvious.  I’m someone who has yet to put shelf paper down and we’ve been in our house for 5 years!  Speaking of, what is the best kind of shelf liner? If I come across any tips I’ll let you know.  If you have any, please share.

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20
Jul
07

Color Meets Neutrals, Contd.

ColorElizabeth over at A Browner Brown pointed me to this post at Apartment Therapy as part of my conversation with Julie about using color with neutral walls.

There are lots of great photos in the post, so be sure to scroll down. One of the comments talks about the beauty of the unstudied, casual look that comes from not using a set color scheme, which isn’t easy to pull off on a tight money (and I would add time) budget. I tend to agree.

18
Jul
07

Patterns, Color and Winterthur Revisited

I’m intrigued by how good designers mix patterns. Henry F. DuPont’s, Winterthur, is a great place to see a seemingly infinite number of ways to do it.

I took John there for his birthday a few years back because I knew he would enjoy the craftsmanship of some of the finest examples of wood furniture in the U.S. As DuPont turned his estate into a survey of high quality non-native American furniture (approximately Empire and before), he also created a giant canvas on which to layer his talent for putting rooms together (and gardens, but that’s another post).

Julie and I have been exchanging comments lately about color in neutral rooms. While the elements of DuPont’s dining room are a little more reserved than Julie’s more worldly style, the basic idea of using color with a neutral background is here—the fabrics carry the color.

Dining Room

The architectural elements are allowed to shine on their own with a neutral coat of paint (more of an oyster than the pinkish color you see here), and maybe a few highlights (see the trim on the doors). The rich wood of the furniture also gets to play a major role.

I like that the drapery fabric and the chair covers are the same medium sized pattern. Sometimes I think I’m afraid to use a fabric in other parts of the same room. I don’t know why (maybe it’s an attempt to avoid the catalog look). But a few repeated fabrics, even a vibrant stripe like this one, can give a room unity of design, calming the space. If I remember correctly the stripe and the large pattern of the rug are the only two fabric patterns in the room and the differences in scale work well together.

floating staircase

The stair hall (not a great picture, sorry) is an even more refined space, with light and airy Federalist pieces, which play nicely with the floating staircase – delicate, but sturdy. Anyway, the green of the settee fabric, which in another application might be considered bank-ish or too heavy handed looks downright understated in this setting.

chinese parlor 2. jpg

There’s nothing understated about the Chinese parlor. I love it, with all of its game and tea tables everywhere (mostly, if not all, American Rococo, aka Chippendale), and that great (in every sense of the word) wallpaper that makes you feel like a character in a giant storybook. The whole room is a big, elegant play room for grown-ups, but really, wouldn’t kids be happy here, too?

chinese parlor

I’ve never worked with pattern on the scale of this wallpaper, but I like it, especially that DuPont made it work with two large rugs and the large pattern in the two different green damasks. The sturdy forms of the furniture ground things. And now that I look at it so do the drapery and sofa fabrics, which even though they are a damask pattern read as a solid when seen next to the wallpaper.

If you are a furniture/design or even a garden buff, Winterthur is well worth a trip for inspiration.

10
Jul
07

Bedroom Befores and Afters

So here’s the room (sans bookcase, not here yet). Before pics follow.

Master Bedroom

Bedroom Befores

Sitting Area

Bedroom Befores

Sitting area 3

Last Friday I picked up the 8’ x 10’ jute rug from Lowe’s ($168.00 – I’m almost afraid of how cheap it was, makes me wonder if the jute is hiding some exotic parasite or something) and a palm from Costco ($20.00-John’s mom gave me that tip).

Nightstand

Dave and I foraged through T. J. Maxx, William Sonoma Home and Pottery Barn for accessories on Saturday. Found some decent deals (especially at WS Home—candles and a great nautilus shell, which they sold to me even though I think it may have been for display only) and a very cool carved tree root basket from T. J. Max, which we thought John would like (he did). Had to go back on Sunday to return a few items, but not many.

Oh, and I found really good plant deals at Smith and Hawkin. I usually don’t even bother going in there (a little out of my league), but I was sort of desperate for something already potted (even I get tired of shopping eventually). P.S. Did you know S & H offers complimentary potting services for any plant you buy there?

Sleeping area

I wish I were a better photographer. You can’t see the rug under the bed very well. The bedding is from Target, except for the square pillow (Pottery Barn) and the bed skirt which we already had. It’s wrong how much I love Target.

Sleeping area

I think my favorite new things are the chandeliers. They’re drippy and sparkly (you all know I like some razzle with my dazzle). Oh, and I went with the poly sheers. They look pretty good. I probably would have loved the silk organza, but I decided the sunlight would decimate them in a couple of years, and for the money, well, it was $80.00 vs. $240.00 and this was a budget job.

John and I both read a lot in our room, so I still have to bring the books back in (maybe just not all of them) and get the leather piece made for the small chest. We want the room to have a little bit of a library as well as a “Bahamanian” (as Dave says) feel to it, to it. It doesn’t without the bookcase and our usual stacks of books everywhere.

I’m having to enjoy the beachy serenity alone this week. John is gone to Puerto Rico for work again (ugh!). At least he has a nice retreat to come home to. He says he really likes it, though I know it’s hard to compete with an actual beach.

Thanks to all of you who gave us moral support and expertise. And to those of you who contributed time, talent, product and trouble (Linda, Dave, and Mindy), we owe you.   Our psyches are eternally grateful.

06
Jul
07

Tucked In

I love WordPress’s Tag Surfer. It pulls a bunch of stuff together for me and suddenly some ideas start to click. For instance on the issue of storage:

John and I do not spend time taking care of our shoes. I’ll come out and say it: it’s a fault. Shoes are expensive, so we should do a better job of protecting our investment.

The shoe problem is a storage issue. John and I have always struggled with the best way to store shoes. We have a rack that is only used when one of us finally gets tired of tripping over our shoes as they lay like lazy pets on the closet floor. The rack takes up too much room in our closet and the shoes slide off of it.

I love this solution. Letting gravity do the work makes a lot of sense. And it would help keep shoes’ shapes.

shoe-rack_situ

One person didn’t have room for this product so she made her own. (Thanks to Lucy at Lu Terceiro for the tip.)

shoe

Speaking of gravity, check out this set-up for keeping newborns near mom at night without the fear of the kid getting squashed by a snoring parent. A lever tucks under the mattress and supports the cute little bundle. I didn’t post a picture, but click the link. It’s worth it.

And while we’re on the subject of leverage at home, check out this collapsible book case.

book

05
Jul
07

Master Bedroom – More Upholstery Lessons

I’ve been under the weather lately, so I hope you’ll forgive me if these aren’t the best pictures. They at least give a clue of the direction we’re headed.

Chair and Chest

As I’ve said before, this particular room makeover is about using what we already have when possible and inexpensive items when I have to purchase something. (Yes, I realize how cheap that sounds. The shoe fits.)

Rocking Chair

The rocker was a gift from John’s mom, one of her auction finds.

Arm Chair
The armchair is one of my auction finds ($50.00 at Greenfield, Indiana auction). It is more comfortable than it may look. The red (more of a paprika?) chenille fabric was leftover from another chair project, and the upholsterer (not the same one who did the gold striped chair) used every bit of what I had left.

This brings me to some further thoughts on upholsterers—T & H required me to buy new fabric because Tom wanted 9 yards to do the chair. Upholsterers ask for that much not because they will need it, but because they MIGHT need it if they make a mistake and have to redo a section, which I don’t have a problem with since I make mistakes, too. T & H also noted that a new cushion was needed and just built it into the project price.

The upholsterer for the red chairs, a Mr. Brown, who I tried at the recommendation of a fabric store here in town didn’t do quite as fine a job as T & H (the rocker cushion needed to be a refurbished and wasn’t, but in his defense I assumed he would do that and didn’t ask him to). At the same time, I know when he looked at the amount of fabric I had he knew he there was no margin for error. He could have easily said, “you’ll need 2 more yards for this project” but he didn’t, which saved me a lot of time and money. He charged me $200.00 to do both. So all in all, I’m okay with how these two turned out. They are both comfortable, and I like they way they look. Mr. Brown was the right person for that job, and T & H for the other.

I got the lamp on the table above at Midland Antiques Market, which is just down the street from our house. Here is their website with a few directions that come in handy. Midland usually has what I need when what I need is a particular and interesting second-hand something. Some of the staff can be a little frosty, but the selection is awesome (two floors of an old factory building). Don’t expect to find outrageous bargains (they know their stuff). But many times the price is right. This brass accented glass pillar lamp with foil barrel shade was $49.95. (Lamp needs to be raised, will probably put it on a stack of books later.)

The chest, an East Side Auction find ($60.00) used to be John’s bedside table. Dave suggested moving it here and I think it works. John’s mom is going to help me size a piece of leather for the top, which it was always meant to have.

Here is what we have left to do:

-Make a leather inset for the top of the chest
-Pick up 8×10 jute rug I bought from Lowes
-Put together book case
-Purchase a good sized palm
-One accent pillow for the bed
-Accessorize (the last few details that can typically bog me down)

None of this is insurmountable. It just takes time and energy to pull together and I need to feel a little better before I can tackle them. Hopefully soon.

02
Jul
07

A Good, Small Book Case is Hard to Find

I know I haven’t posted in a coon’s age, but I’ll have a photo update soon, and the room is almost finished. In the meantime, here is what’s been going on:

  • Victorian rocker and arm chairs are back from upholsterer (more on those two tomorrow).
  • Purchased a lamp.
  • Just bought this book case from Overstock.com. It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for colorwise, but it is solid wood, the size is perfect, and with shipping and taxes it only cost $109.00, which is pretty decent deal.

bookcase

Have you ever used Overstock.com?  I’ve eyed their stuff for awhile, but never ordered anything.  They have interesting things (not just funiture) and a similar book case to this one at International Furniture Imports here in town was $240.00.  I’m anxious to see if I like what I get. 

In any case, I had NO luck at any of my second-hand furniture sources and I don’t have time right now to get to auctions. I’m surprised by how hard it was to find decent and small book cases. Hope this one works. Worst case scenario, I may have to paint it, but again, the price was right.

Dave the installer just called and said he will come and install the last two brackets on the shades and hang my sheers tomorrow a.m. Will take pictures. I promise.