Posts filed under ‘Decorating’

To Decorate or Not to Decorate

I’m stumped. Remember back when I had spring cleaning wishlist? Well, that was short lived. It took about 4 months to cross two things off of that list (numbers 1 and 2, if you’re curious). I’d like to continue making progress toward finishing up that list, but I’m torn about what to do with number 5, my desire to find a new home for my make up, which currently sits in a small box on top of our bathroom counter. You see, the issue is bigger than just finding more storage – I could easily buy one of those over-the-toilet shelving units. The issue is one of making small changes to a room when we have bigger plans for the space down the line.

For instance, this is the 3/4 bath off of our bedroom:

IMG_0101

Outdated. Boring. In desperate need of a facelift. But, with wedding plans fully underway, we don’t necessarily want to part with a big amount of money to overhaul our bathrooms (yes, both of them need a makeover). Ideally, we’d like to DIY the bathrooms with new vanities, tile flooring, travertine showers, modern water-conserving toilets and additional storage. Not exactly a simple weekend project.

But, as my wish list suggests, I hate when things don’t have “their place”. My make-up should not just sit on the sink counter. I want to put it away somewhere.

So, what do I do? Do I give it some minimal effort now – some paint, a new mirror, some storage – or put up with an ugly, limited bathroom for the next year until I can do it right?

September 13, 2009 at 4:38 pm 1 comment

Looking for Inspiration: Bedroom Decor Ideas

Now that we bought our bedroom furniture, we’re ready to finally paint and decorate our bedroom. We originally started with navy as our primary color, but after buying such dark walnut furniture, we might need to lighten things up a bit. Granted, we’ll hold off on buying a new bed collection (need something to put on the wedding registry), but I’m on the lookout for some inspiration anyway. Here’s what I’ve fallen in love with so far:

hdvote-cook-bedroom_w609

6Charalambous_houseinpotoma_lg

lori-dennis-orange-bedroom3_lg

Charalambous-Andreas-Tan-Bedroom_lg

erinn-valencich-mariah-bedroom_lg

July 27, 2009 at 8:08 pm 5 comments

Lessons in Furniture Shopping

Shawn and I have always had interesting experiences buying furniture. When we first started looking at furniture, it was to replace an old scratchy couch I had in my our bedroom when he moved in. We wound up settling for a futon from Craigslist, but we couldn’t ignore the advertising powerhouse that is Bob’s Discount Furniture. We learned two very important things on this trip:

  1. If you are under the age of 25, do not expect to have salesmen pay you any attention. Furniture salesmen don’t believe you have money to spend, nor do they think you’re serious about the purchase. Getting your questions answered is like pulling teeth.
  2. If you’re looking to invest in furniture that will last a long time, this is not the store for you. His prices are competitive, but the quality is not there to back it up. Specifically we were looking for a couch, so his other furniture might put up a fight, but the couches we looked at had flimsy frames and cushions that would no doubt deflate within a couple years.

When we moved into our condo last September, our first order of business was to go to IKEA for some basics, including a coffee table, end tables and book cases. But, when it came to bedroom furniture, couches and a kitchen table, we really wanted to invest properly. IKEA, as I’m sure you know, is known for being wildly inexpensive and modern in taste – just our style. But, when we started researching prices and options at major furniture retailers like Jordan’s, we quickly needed to be brought back to reality. Not every furniture retailer is priced like IKEA. So, the research continued.

going-out-of-business1We found that few furniture stores really offer a variety of dressers and bedframes whose joints are dovetailed. Many settle for glued and nailed joints, which honestly is fine, but we wanted to ensure that in 10 years, our furniture was as sturdy and secure as it was when we bought it. We also found that many of the “going out of business” sales that we hear about are scams. Deals at these sales aren’t deals at all – the prices are the same as regularly priced furniture at Jordan’s or Bernie & Phyl’s. It should’ve tipped us off when a local furniture store in Portsmouth had a going out of business “liquidation sale” for nearly 8 months.

There are a few other lessons we learned in furniture shopping, but I’ll leave those for another day. Let me just say that it pays to do your research, don’t overlook the independently owned mom & pop shops and don’t settle for furniture just because you need it. Spend just a little money on something “good enough” until you find something really worth the investment.

July 22, 2009 at 9:07 pm Leave a comment

Things I Love That I Haven’t Bought Yet: IdeaPaint Dry-Erase Paint

Move over chalkboard paint! I don’t know why it took SO LONG for this stuff to be developed, but it just makes SENSE, and I want to paint my entire house with it! If you don’t know already, I’m obsessed with To Do lists. Well, I’m obsessed with lists in general, so IdeaPaint’s dry-erase board paint seems like the greatest stuff in the world to me! Nod to Apartment Therapy for bringing this gem into my life!

source: IdeaPaint

I’m a little skeptical about how even the paint is when applied (especially if I’m the one painting), but it claims to be a roller applied paint that turns any surface into a dry-erase board. Of course it’s ideal for the conference room, but you can also use it at home. I can totally see myself becoming that crazed Alpha Wife who keeps the family’s schedule and grocery list scrawled across the kitchen wall.

Note to self: Tell our CEO about this. My company is moving into a new building in a few weeks, and if there’s one thing that is APPARENT, it’s that we looove us some dry-erase white boards. Every desk has one, every conference room is walled on at least two sides with them – even the hallways have white boards!

June 5, 2009 at 9:34 pm 2 comments

Things I Love That I Haven’t Bought Yet: Calvin Klein Bedding

I really wish I could be one of those housewives who changes all of her housewares, bedding, curtains and decorations to match the season. If I was an inspired, rich, stay-at-home m-word (not quite there yet), I would do it. But I always talk myself out of it because I’d have to change everything 3 months later. As such, everything in our house is tan. If it’s not tan, it’s gray. Omni-seasonal and neutral to the max.

Then I saw this. This could be the first “seasonal” bedding I buy:

yellow-calvin-klein-bedding1

Calvin’s home bedding from Macy’s always finds itself at the top of my list. Simple, kinda preppy, always in style. This set just looks so bright and comfortable, and perfect for the summer. Now, if I do go ahead and make the purchase, I’ll need new curtains. Currently we have navy roman shades, and I have a feeling I’ll meet some resistance from Shawn, who needs 100% darkness for sleep. Maybe some darker tan or olive-colored shades.. hmm, maybe I have to buy those flowers so the stems match the window treatments. Is that taking it too far? I just want it to coordinate!

April 20, 2009 at 7:43 pm 4 comments

HGTV Makes It Look Easy

Fact: HGTV romanticizes the thought of renovating a home. With their oh-so-easy furniture building tips, cheap & somehow perfect-looking garage sale finds and an expert decorator’s eye for color, fabric & coordination, they really make you feel empowered to accomplish the same type of vision. Now, I don’t usually keep circular saws and staple guns on hand to create the perfect headboard. And if I did, I wouldn’t know how to use them. Hell, I wouldn’t even know how much fabric I’d have to buy (how much does a yard cover?). When it’s time to get crackin’, you quickly realize how daunting a task home improvement and decorating is.

For instance, we knew immediately that we needed to build in more storage in the kitchen. Specifically, we needed to build a pantry. Without it, there was virtually no extra room after assigning cabinet space for our dishes and pots / pans.  Luckily, we came across Closetmaid from Home Depot. With Closetmaid, you enter in the measurements of the space you’d like to create – a closet, pantry or storage area, for instance. Then, you build your virtual closet on this website and when you’re done, you can print out an exact list of supplies you need to build it yourself. The assembly still took a few hours, but it would’ve taken a lot longer if we had to figure it out ourselves.

If you’re buying your first home and can’t wait to get your hands dirty, here are a few truths:

  • Everything is 10X more expensive than you think it will be. I thought one of my first projects would be to swap out the old hardware in the kitchen and bathrooms, and replace the doorknobs to something more modern. Doorknobs are about $15 a piece. Decent looking (a.k.a. not gross 80’s brass) kitchen cabinet hardware can run you $2 – 5 each. It doesn’t sound expensive, but it really adds up. 8 months later, it’s still on the To Do list.
  • Channeling Genevieve Gorder is not as easy as you think. Inspiration comes easy to professional designers. Would I have ever thought to paint an old waistbasket, turn it upside down, and use it as a lampshade? Ehh, probably not. Give it time, look at a million websites and know that it’s perfectly ok to copy the display in the furniture showroom.
  • It’s not going to come out as perfect as you’d like. Special lighting and camera angles make the rooms on HGTV look seamless. The truth is, there’s paint on the ceiling, something somewhere is being held together by masking tape and the homemade pillows won’t last a week after your dog gets ahold of them.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have this ridiculous notion that we’ll be able to tile the bathrooms, replace the vanities and de-popcorn the ceilings ourselves. But, at least I’ve come to know that a “weekend project” takes at LEAST a month.

April 15, 2009 at 8:53 pm 3 comments

Buying Stuff For the Sake of Buying Stuff

Shawn & I had an overwhelming trip to IKEA when we first bought our condo. Living at my dad’s house, we managed to squeeze a bed, two large dressers, a futon, a few book cases and a night stand into one bedroom. Sounds like a lot for one room, but when you bring it all into a 1100 square foot condo, it’s not much. Proof:

empty-nestYes, those are two overturned boxes serving as our makeshift coffee table. (Actually, one of them still serves as my nightstand, but you know, owning a home is a marathon, not a sprint.)

Anyway, a trip to IKEA was imperative. I swear, the creators of that store did some serious psychographic research to make sure they squeezed every dollar from every single person that walked through. Okay, the insanely low prices might have something to do with it too.

However, since we hadn’t previously discussed decorating ideas or interior design style, we were swayed by every single display that we walked by. Shelving and wardrobes and kitchen islands, oh my! If you’ve never been there, you’ve been warned.

One of my favorite purchases was this set of floating bookcases:

floating-bookcasesThis would be fine, except what do I do with those top bookcases? Right now there are birthday cards, one frame, and Shawn’s stuffed bunny from when he was a baby (awww). During Christmas, we had a ton of random trinkets that did the trick, but now I’m at a loss. What kind of crap do we put up there? More books? Empty vases and bowls? My friend Holly at Sweet Hours Have Perished Here suggested checking out the housewares at Goodwill. I hadn’t even thought of that! Admittedly, I still haven’t gone there, but it’s a smart and cost effective place to go when you need to buy stuff for the sake of buying stuff. I’m planning on heading there soon and taking in as many Portsmouth, NH yard sales as possible when those start up too.

April 2, 2009 at 7:39 pm 1 comment


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