Friday, September 19, 2014


Did you ever wonder if your were doing it right?  Did you ever mull over paint chips for a few weeks, and still wonder if you had picked the right color as you were rolling paint onto the wall??  Did you ever feel overwhelmed by all the amazing choices that are available for furniture and lighting??

If you have ever feathered or attempted to feather your proverbial nest, you have most likely felt unsure about if your were doing "it" right.  Designing your home can be a complicated process...even knowing where to start can feel overwhelming.  Paint colors and large purchases are a big commitment in time, effort and money, so getting it right can require thinking outside the box and breaking a few rules along the way.

Here are a few design rules I like to break.  


Sometimes I buy things because I think that I am supposed to, but not because it's the best choice for the space.  Curtains and window treatments are one of those "somethings" we think we should do automatically.  This gorgeous window is the prime example of a space  that needed to break the rule. The window looks amazing with no window treatments, no drapes,....nothing at all.  To cover that crown molding would be a crime... and all that beautiful natural light just pours into the room.

Another example is from our kitchen, it's is a large space with one small window above the sink.  I try to get as much natural light into the kitchen as possible from this one window... and it isn't much.  When we first moved in I tried all different sized valances... until I decided that putting curtains up was the wrong "something" for my window.

I used a small faux boxwood wreath from Ballard Designs.  A dot of hot glue holds it in place with a burlap wired ribbon.  My hanging window wreath treatment lets light in, without looking like a forgotten space.  


OK, I know that I was probably the only young co-ed at my alma mater that spent time stenciling her room... (It was in the 90's) I was busy channeling my inner Martha, when I should have been putting more effort into studying... Anyway, stencils may have gotten a bad wrap in the 80's and 90's... as poorly done boarders of sheep and milk jugs.  Don't shy away from past fashion trends (they weren't all bad), even if it seems "out of date" or a little "old-fashioned".  The county sheep wall boarders may be out of fashion, but new graphic patterns and subtle designs are available and can really add charm to your home.  A little splash of retro fashion, helps build character.

Here are three example of stencils used in my home, and I think I pull it off quite nicely.  If done well, there is a timeless quality to it, rather than a 1980's vibe.

A stenciled monogram on a reclaimed hutch.  
Click here it visit the Vintage Hutch Makeover post
 A stenciled stairway...

A stenciled side table.

P.S. you can add a stenciled monogram to new furniture too, or onto mirrors or even onto walls... 


Not everything has to be used for what it was originally intended for...what a liberating concept.  Use furniture, artwork and home decor items in unexpected ways and breathe new life into your home. Below, is an example of  how a dresser can stand in as a swanky buffet in a dining room.

Here a cake stand with cover holds stacked Halloween cake here, just spooky spiders.

 A set of 1950's flash cards turn into a charming personal touch atop a dining room sideboard.
 Adding personal touches to your home, make the space feel warm and inviting and most of all interesting...


We used to have a cherry kitchen.  I painted our cabinets white.  I did.  Even though countless people weighed in on my project... "How could you paint cherry cabinets... ?! They are so gorgeous... " Well, I didn't think they were gorgeous.  I wanted a light, bright kitchen and those dark wood cabinets were bringing me down.  Listen to you instincts.  After all the designing and planning and agonizing over every detail is said and done, you are the one that has to live with it.  I could still be living with dark (albeit cherry) wood cabinets, but instead I am happily enjoying the light, bright and airy kitchen I always knew I wanted.  
There are two very distinct camps when it comes to painting wood; those who love wood in all it's natural beauty and those that are perfectly fine with painting over it... For the record, neither camp is "right".  When it comes to design, what matters most is loving what you live with and living with what you love.  If you love painted cabinets, at the end of the day, it's your kitchen, make it how you want it.

I have painted a fair amount of damaged furniture to give it a second life.  The pieces I paint are certainly not Smithsonian quality... but after they are gussied up, they look great and become usable, unlike how they originally began.  In my world, a little wood goes a long way.  I have no trouble fixing up a thrift store cast off, and turning it into a one-of-a-kind treasure.  Be fearless, and if you want something in a different color, you are allowed to paint it, it's OK, it's only paint!


To This.... Taaa Daaa.


Many homes from the 80's have oak or natural woodwork throughout the entire house.  I think it was put in as a builder's upgrade way back when....  Painted millwork, seamlessly blends into the design, whereas natural or stained wood trims and moldings create lines and stark separations.  Sometimes the dark or natural wood trims can make a space feel small, by drawing the eye to the rooms edges, rather than having all the parts blend into one another.  It's really a style preference, so do what you like.  For me, unless I'm at the lodge in the mountains, I prefer painted mill work and crown molding. It's OK to paint your moldings and trim.  It will be beautiful!!

MY LAST TWO RULES to follow and possibly the MOST important:

Great design doesn't have to cost a fortune. Collecting pieces over time and shopping tag sales, auctions and thrift stores is a great way to save money and find unique one-of-a kind pieces to add to your home.  When you do buy retail, the most expensive pieces don't always mean the best made or the highest quality; it's sometimes just simply high priced.  Do your homework and make sure that your money is well spent.

Only buy and surround yourself with what you love.  This is probably a good rule for life too... but as far as home decor and design go, just stick with what you love and it will become part of the charm and personality that makes your home uniquely you and an extension of yourself.   A beautiful place to live starts with having pieces that work for you and your family.  From furnishings to color palettes, if you love it, spending time in that space will feel good and isn't that what being home is all about?

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