The front hall

When we first walked this house, we were floored by the epic wainscotting but horrified by the choice of light fixtures in pretty much every room in the house. So light fixtures have been a huge focus for us since moving in and getting started on putting our stamp on the space. We’re pretty close on finishing up the front hall, or at least as close as it’s going to get for a while. Like the rest of the house, we’re painting the walls in here later this month, though I have dreams of hanging wallpaper (this one specifically) eventually and laying a Stark Antelope runner down the stairs. Those will happen later but are dependent on some other work happening first (namely refinishing all the floors in the house).

Moving on, here’s what the front hallway looked like just after moving in. I found that vintage rug on Cragislist for a mere $40 and trekked out to Dumbo for it – and am so happy I did. This hallway was desperately in need of a few things: (1) a stylish light fixture (2) that is centered on the door (3) pretty new door hardware and (4) a pop of colour on that front door.

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So, we did all of those things. A few weeks ago we set aside a warm weekend to paint our front door Farrow and Ball’s Stiffkey Blue in high gloss, and we’re in love. Before we moved in, we ordered new front door hardware from Baldwin in unlacquered brass (SO hard to find and SO much more expensive than you’d ever imagine as a renter). Also before we moved in, Cory and I made our first trip to Brimfield during our mini-moon and found a very cool never been used vintage mid-century modern brass light fixture. It’s definitely different and we love it. There was a kerfuffle with centering the light fixture, where when we removed the old one and opened up the junction box, we realized there’s a joist running directly down the middle of the hallway, oof. Long story short: my husband told me we couldn’t center the light fixture, I said “but if we could… how would we do it” and 4 trips to Home Depot later and 1 ceiling medallion later, we had a centered light fixture. Yes.

And the after photos:

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And a close up on the light fixture, which my sister has told me looks like test tubes and is weird but probably stylish? Eh, we love it, so it’s not going anywhere.

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And that’s it for now. We still need to paint the ceiling in here, you can see some spackle that needs to be painted, but otherwise it’s a huge improvement. For consistency, we used the same ceiling medallion as in the kitchen.

Source:

Paint Colour | Front Door Hardware | Ceiling Medallion | LED Edison Bulb | Light fixture and rug are vintage

Picture perfect: Entryway

Sometimes it’s hard to tell exactly what isn’t working in a space, it’s for those times that I turn to photos. It’s usually as simple as snapping a photo of the vignette or room and analyzing what jumps out at you and what really shines.

When we finished painting our entryway faux bamboo dresser, we were so excited to style it that pulled together a vignette late at night. And while it looked great, it wasn’t 100% there yet. So I snapped a pic and identified the problem areas. It’s so much easier than any other tactic I’ve tried.

Here’s my first quick attempt at styling the space:

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The bones are really good, that mirror fills up the wall nicely and bounces light around. The lamp is sculptural and adds height, while the lamp shade adds contrast. But there are some aspects that just aren’t working.

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There are a few things that can’t change yet, we’re painting the walls later this month a cooler light grey and I still haven’t found a fabulous sconce to replace the awful one presently on both walls. But, to neutralize those two eyesores, I did some creative editing in Photoshop. So. Much. Better.

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And then I made some changes to how this entryway moment is styled that are so much stronger.

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And a side by side:

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New additions include the Target Threshold brass side table that helps anchor the dresser into the nook space, provides sculptural interest and serves as a functional place for me to leave my bag when I get home. I also swapped the basil plant for another ginger jar (a $6 Goodwill find!), replaced the tray with this great python one from Furbish Studio that had been on our coffee table and brought in these great smoked glass tea lights from CB2. I’m much happier with this little moment. Once the walls are painted and the sconce is replaced, I can call this space done.

Sources:

Mirror | Side Table | Python Tray | Smoked Glass Tealight Holder | All others are vintage

 

Tackling the main floor bathroom

And just like that, the first room in our house is done. Well, at least for now. Backing it up, as I wrote about previously, this bathroom is on our main floor and is the one most frequently used by guests, so I wanted it to make a strong impression that was true to our style.

We started out with a slightly sad butter yellow room with dingy board and batten, an old builder grade vanity, mirror and light fixtures. I have a whole post dedicated to the before photos over here, but I’m sharing a few here to set the tone.

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And then I set forth the design plan, which leaned heavily on high contrast black walls with white board and batten, a warm brass mirror and faucet and a high-gloss black vanity. I also incorporated some natural materials, like a bamboo wastebasket and wood tray to bring warmth and character to the space.

Looking at the design plan, I’d say that the final room definitely stayed true to the plan.

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A few small things that changed: I ended up going with a slightly different Schoolhouse Electric sconce with an articulating arm in order to amp up the drama and make the most of the vertical space visually.

And here are the after photos.

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So. Much. Better.

I’m going to do a full post on the faux Roman shades, because they were definitely an exercise in nailing the look I wanted in a creative way without spending nearly as much as I should have for a Roman shade in a stunning designer fabric.

I also wanted to speak to the black walls – they’re dramatic and totally unexpected, and I’m completely obsessed with them. But, we definitely get less light into the room now with fewer reflective surfaces. It doesn’t bother me at all, because this is a bathroom, not a space we’re constantly using, but I do think I would hesitate to go super dark in a frequently used space in the house in the future.

And the sources:

Wall Paint: Sherwin Williams Black Magic in Semi Gloss

Trim Paint: Benjamin Moore Decorator’s White in Semi Gloss

Vanity Paint: Benjamin Moore Advance in Black

Lucite Vanity Knobs: Etsy

Brass Sconce: Schoolhouse Electric

Brass Mirror: Restoration Hardware (found at the outlet)

Brass Faucet: Harrison Brassworks (sourced off Craigslist)

Towel Ring: Vintage

Monogrammed Hand Towel: Pottery Barn

Persian Rug: Vintage from my fave rug shop on ebay

Flushmount Light Fixture: Pottery Barn

Brass Toilet Flush: Amazon

Wastebasket: Homegoods

Art Print: Mai Autumn

Frame: Framebridge

Toilet Paper Holder: Anthropologie

Shower Curtain Rod: Overstock

Shower Curtain Rings: Homegoods

Shower Curtain: Pottery Barn

Roman Shade Fabric: Schumacher Zimba in Charcoal

It’s funny, in looking over the list of sources, I realize a lot of pieces came from Pottery Barn. And yet, to me, this room doesn’t look like Pottery Barn. It’s a nice reminder of how you can make individual pieces your own in a space that mixes and matches both new and vintage and different retail shops. It’s ALL about the mix to make a style feel unique to your style and like it represents your own personality.

If you’re looking for more ideas for upgrading a bathroom on a budget: great looking peel and stick tile and this medicine cabinet makeover.

Going glam on a faux bamboo dresser

Constant checks of Craigslist have allowed me to unearth some pretty epic finds. The most recent of which was a faux bamboo Henry Link Bali Hai dresser. I somehow managed to see past the awful paint job to impeccably chic bones (I mean not just one color of blue paint but two?!)

Here it was in all it’s Craigslist glory:

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And here she is now:

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It’s remarkable what some sanding, priming and high gloss spray paint can do to bring neglected vintage pieces of furniture back to life. We used this spray paint, by the way. The handles got a good scrubbing with Barkeeper’s Friend, aka the best fix for tarnished brass of all time.

We did run into a few issues in which we were getting a rough finish on one of the sides, so we had to sand it back down in places and repaint, which added some extra time. Also, make sure to leave plenty of time for the paint to cure.

We haven’t tackled the matching mirror yet, but I’m thinking the same high gloss black finish is in order too.

New kitchen lighting

I pretty much despise all the lighting in our house, so have been on a rampage to swap out as many light fixtures as I possibly can. I’ve also been taking the opportunity to add in ceiling medallions for an extra dose of style, where I’m obsessed with the mix of vintage, ornate medallion and the modern light fixture base.

So for the before photos:

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These pendants just felt dark. And dated. Though taking them down did give us insight into when the kitchen was renovated, roughly 6 years ago.

We installed these globe pendants from West Elm with these ceiling medallions from Amazon. Easy and efficient. The trick for finishing the medallions off cleanly is to run a bead of adhesive caulking around the edge of the medallions to ensure everything looks perfectly flush. Ta da.

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The One Room Challenge: Week Two

I keep telling myself that things will look worse until they look better… and worse they currently look. Over the weekend, we demoed the built-in bookshelves that took up one full wall of the guest bedroom. I’m usually a big proponent of built-ins, but these were killing the layout and made the room feel unusually cramped. Also, it’s just plain awkward to reach behind you into a bookshelf to flip a switch. A switch that doesn’t actually control the light… because there isn’t an overhead light. As with most the rooms in this house, we’re discovering that overhead lighting was not a priority.

So, let’s get to the photos of the damage. If you can remember, these are the built-ins bookshelves in question:

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And our current state:

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We’ve since started to prep the walls to be patched, though we’re contemplating just replacing the damaged drywall panels for a smoother finish. While the wall looks pretty terrifying right now (not to mention that strip of wood floor that needs to be refinished), the room already feels so much bigger and the view from the hallway feels less claustrophobic.

We also picked up paint samples for the room and are debating between a medium grey and a dark pewter, both from Sherwin Williams. Some days we’ve been gravitating towards the safer Summit Gray and other days it’s been the bolder Roycroft Pewter (very similar to Farrow and Ball’s Down Pipe). Fortunately, our local Sherwin Williams tipped us off to a big sale happening this weekend, so we have a few days to contemplate the right colour.

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Also, we started painting a faux bamboo Henry Link dresser I found off Craigslist in a rich glossy black. It’s already looking pretty stunning, so photos are upcoming once we complete the drawers. This transformation is very good (total ugly duckling status).

This week, I’m sourcing a light fixture for the room, where we need to wire the room through the attic for an overhead light. I’m digging this one from Sazerac Stitches with an ornate ceiling medallion. The ceilings aren’t particularly tall, so an interesting flush-mount is the ideal solution.

Some variations that are currently in the mix:

 

Alternatively, I’m also considering this one from CB2:

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And the modern meets traditional of a Serge Mouille light fixture with an ornate cieling medallion, as in the case of this image from The Decorista.

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I know I haven’t talked too much about the plan for furniture, but this is the first time I’m decorating a room without a strict plan. My strategy for staying on budget has been to comb Craigslist for unique vintage finds that we can make our own in the space, with the goal of it feeling sophisticated, cozy and like a retreat. We’re debating whether we should build a headboard from scratch and cover it in a tribal neutral fabric, or if we can find a cool burled headboard or something else with character that we can lacquer. Hopefully by next week the plan will be in place. What I do know is that we’re keeping colour to a minimum with a gray, white and black palette with brass accents and a small pop of washed lilac linen, which we picked up for a long rectangular lumbar over the weekend at our favourite remnant designer fabric store in CT.

Check out the other One Room Challenge participants over here.

The One Room Challenge: Week One

For years, I’ve been following the One Room Challenge with admiration and finally, have decided to join the challenge. Twice a year, interior designers and bloggers come together to makeover a room over the course of six weeks (you can learn more here). Since we just moved into our first house in Connecticut, I had my pick of rooms for this challenge, and naturally gravitated towards the one room we have zero furniture for, because you know, why make it easy…

For the challenge, I’m tackling our guest bedroom, which is completely barren currently. We have never had the luxury of a second bedroom (not that it stopped us from hosting lots of guests over the years), so we’re eager to create a retreat that lures our friends from the city to visit us this winter and allows a comfortable space for family.

We’re starting from scratch with furniture, which is slightly terrifying but also completely exciting. Now, let me introduce you to the room:

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The room is sizable, but is at present feeling very closed in with the built in bookshelves. I’m normally a huge fan of built-ins, but these are super basic and make the room feel much smaller than it is. One other challenge is that there isn’t a single overhead light in this room (we discovered that you learn a lot about the house you just purchased your first night). I’m crossing my fingers that we’ll be able to run electrical through the attic for a light fixture, otherwise lamps will very much be necessary.

And now for some inspiration photos. I have been dreaming about having a dark and cozy bedroom in here, but I’m slightly concerned about how this room will carry dark walls, given the single set of windows. I’m going to try out some samples on the walls, but am also preparing for a contingency plan in case we need to keep the walls white.

The primary inspiration is Christine Dovey‘s gorgeous, luxe One Room Challenge master bedroom from 2014. Every since I spotted this room, I’ve been head over heels in love with the clever mix of black, white and texture.

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Next up is Michelle Adams’s Ann Arbor guest bedroom featured in House Beautiful. The eclectic mix of styles, eras and textures is so sophisticated. I’m also loving the base of black and white, with color layered in to add dimension.

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I’m currently sourcing the perfect deep grey paint, attempting to source vintage furniture we can upcycle (hello lacquer and reupholstery), and blocking off time to dismantle the built-in bookshelves. Stay tuned!

You can follow the rest of the participants of the challenge over here.

 

 

 

The magic of vintage rugs

If you feel like your room isn’t working quite right, I’d recommend trying a vintage rug. From deep saturated tones to soft hues, there is always one that fits the space perfectly. The amazing thing is, that there are few design pieces that actually look better with age and hold their value remarkably well.

When we first moved into our apartment, I was obsessed with the idea of an overdyed Turkish rug. The saturated jewel tones spoke to me. But, when I went looking in rug stores, I was amazed by the retail price (some clocking in at over $10K), so I took to the internet. I found my first rug on Etsy for a fraction of the price and haven’t looked back.

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Now, that we’ve moved into our house and have a lot of floors to fill, I’ve been on the hunt for vintage rugs of all shapes and sizes. Especially with a mostly open-concept main floor, rugs are essential tools in defining the functional spaces.

This time around, I’m relying less on Etsy and more on Craigslist and eBay for killer finds. My first find, was this runner for our entry way that adds a much-needed pop of colour to the space and creates a moment in a relatively small space. I found this hand-hooked oriental rug on Craigslist and made the trek after work to Brooklyn to retrieve it… and it was absolutely worth it. Don’t mind the off-center and atrocious light fixture (we’ve already got a new-to-us vintage light ready to go in its place) or the basic hardware on the front door (also on its way). I can’t get over the amazing pop of colour as you’re walking by any of the entrances to this little space.

Some of my go-to keywords for searching for great vintage rugs are: persian, oriental, overdyed, kilim, morrocan. Sizes are all over the place and not consistent the way retail rugs are sold, so double-check the measurements of your space before purchase.

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We bought a house

I’m going to be documenting our journey of bringing a semi-fixer upper back to life in a Connecticut beach town. Built in the early 1940s, this is definitely a vintage home, and while it certainly has great bones, it’s going to need a good deal of TLC to become what we envision it can become.

So, some of the details: it’s a three bedroom, three bath colonial with some cape-style design elements. There was an addition done in the 1980s that added a good deal of square footage, but also stripped the house of some of its charm (think: polished brass 1980s doorknobs, hollow core doors and builder-grade light fixtures). We’re planning on doing as much of the work ourselves as possible and have some big plans for updating the layout to be more functional and bringing back the architectural details from the period. On the plus side, we don’t have neighbors super close to the structure on any side so the natural light is insane and completely sold us on the house. We also have some future plans to let in even more light, but those are structural and are off on the horizon. And, this house is spoiling us with some pretty epic patio space – one stone patio and another sizable deck.

And on to the before photos, that are already looking better now that we’ve moved in.

The main floor has an open living room / dining room / seating area. We’re also planning on taking the wall down between the kitchen and the dining room to open up the floor plan even further.

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Also on the main floor is a sunroom. The carpeting gives me nightmares and as soon as we properly insulate the walls, those floors are getting the boot.um5a7542

The kitchen is certainly nice and was updated not too long ago, but it’s definitely not to our taste aesthetically. We do have some short term, budget-friendly plans upgrade some finishes, before an eventual remodel.

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The stairs have amazing millwork details and a brilliant lacquered black handrail.um5a7543

Upstairs, there are three bedrooms and two bathrooms. We’re going to be using the smallest bedroom as an office.um5a7549

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The guest bedroom is sizable and will feel even larger once we take out the built in shelving on the same side as the door. I love built-ins, but these are pretty lackluster and are getting in the way of the ideal floorplan.um5a7567um5a7563um5a7564

The upstairs guest bathroom is in need of some serious love.um5a7571

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