Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Staged to Sell: Formal Dining Room

When decorating a home for yourself you can do any wild and crazy thing you want.  That is your space.  When staging, you are decorating to appeal to the masses.  Embrace your personal style.  Unless your personal style is ugly then you need to change everything.  If your style is trendy thats fine so long as its a current trend.  

Unlike this dark and dated dining room (say that five times fast).  This room had great bones, but was suffering under a pound of pretentious design, and an unfortunate flat paint job.  

The first order of business was remove the stuffy, fluffy curtains.  I don't mind an overly formal space, but this was the 1990s overly formal space and it just wasn't working anymore.  That and my home is a large home, and perfect for a large family.  A room that is both beautiful and more child friendly makes better sense for this home.  So keeping that in mine I decided to ditch the curtains.  They were very high quality draperies, but the pattern and overall look made the room feel dated.

Another bonus I didn't realize we would have is how much bigger the room would feel after we ditched the drapes.  I debated putting something a little more minimal back, but decided against it in the end.  The bay window already had nice blinds.  So I decided, in this case, less was better.

This is the only picture I have of the paint change.  We painted right over the maroon with Benjamin Moore's Wythe Blue in a semi-gloss finish, and by we I mean that our sister missionaries and fabulous young lady from church did almost all of this for me.  The color is a super relaxing and beachy blue, and with the semi-gloss finish making it way more washable and kid friendly.  I would also like to confess that my new paint pants are my christmas pajama pants that I cut off.   They are fun, sturdy and not sporting a gaping hole on the left butt cheek much like my old paint pants.

I understand that not everyone is a fan of the shine you get with semi-gloss, but this is the dining room that is lite by a single light source in the ceiling so the glare is minimal.  Its also completely worth it for the ability to wash the spaghettini sauce that might end up on the wall when your kid knocks over her plate when you refuse to pile a full cup of parmesan cheese on top of her noodles, or so I would image.

image courtesy of google
Speaking of light sources.  The light fixture looked like a classical shabby chic design, but then dripped with crystals.  Giving it a super awkwardand confusing feel.  It made me think of someone you see that is obviously much more suited to wearing sneakers trying to pull off a stilletos for the first time. 

 Ours needed a little bit of a rework.  Originally it was dripping with crystals, but they never really looked like they were meant to be a part of the fixture.  So much like the shoe problem its a pretty easy fix.  So we removed the dangling crystals (I reused them for another project), and with about 5 minutes spent the light fixtures identity issues seemed to be fixed.

My next step was then to dress the walls.  The first thing I hung was this dreamy big mirror that I bought at a thrift shop for $18.

Then I followed that up with the vintage distressed window (that was actually part of a group of 4) that I bought at a garage sale.

Then I hung this fun mirror on the wall.  When we lived in Mesa Arizona many moons ago (like 13 years ago) we spent an afternoon in Nogales Mexico just looking at all the cool things in the tourist shops there.  This was my one and only purchase, and I still love it.

The I decided to make this little arrangement of fun plates and saucers.  I got the frame from a garage sale (with the windows).  The saucers I've bought here and there over the years.  Mostly garage sales and thrift stores.  I didn't pay more than a quarter for any of them.  The silver platter I'm pretty sure in a former live was a dollar tree tray.  It looks so good here though. 

I love the small cracks that these have.  It makes them feel like they have a history.  I feel like the basis of a shabby chic style is to highlight the imperfections.  So with these plates I used a sharpie marker, and liberally scribbled all over the front.  I then removed the excess with a cotton ball of rubbing alcohol.  It leaves the marker color behind in the find cracks, and removes it from everywhere else.  I love it.

The full impact is pretty impressive.  Bonus points if you remember when I refurbished this awesome dresser a few years back.

I kept things simple in here.  I made sure that all the decor I used was complimentary to the other rooms that this is open to.  I love it way better now, and I feel like it is much more appealing to potential buyers in the current incarnation.  I'm just bummed that I put off doing this for so long.  Why did I allow the ugly to hang about for so long?  I'm sure there is a lesson in there somewhere.

The total cost of things used to dress this space was less than $50, but the over-all impact made is spectacular.  With a quick color change, and the addition of vintage aged decor this now feels like a warm and welcoming place to spend meals with the family.  Don't feel like you need to give every room a huge overhaul.  Sometimes with the addition of a few key items, and being smart about kicking the clutter you can have a space that will appeal to buyers

So get out there, and make something pretty.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Staged to Sell: The Formal Living Room

A friend of mine told me once that I had a 'rich white people room'.  He said that rich white people always had a room with no tv, but it had a piano.  I'm not sure we fall into the 'rich' category, but I do love that we have a pretty, quiet room where we can welcome guests.  As for the piano, I don't play...the piano is, however, one of the many talents of the awesome Señor Hotness.  When he is here he actually plays at church.  Sometimes he unwinds after the kids go to bed by just sitting down and playing.  It is one of my favorite things ever, and is 100% swoon worthy.

So to start off with the blank canvas we had beige walls, and awesome plantation shutters.

Did I mention our dreamy hardwood floors?  No?  Hey check out those dreamy hardwood floors!  That stain color isn't one I would have normally picked, but I have found its a good compliment to my style and furniture.

Excluding the piano that sits in this room no single piece in this room cost more than $300, and that was the couch chair combo.  Everything else cost $50 or less (or in most cases free).

The end tables I purchased off of craigslist, and they were super janky.  They were one of the first projects that I ever took on.  They have moved several times, and have held together like champs.  The coffee table was a freebie, and the rug is a quality wool rug I got off of a Facebook group for $25.

This is what it looked like for a while.  This picture is a testament to how important the little accessories are to bring a room together.  Sure I have nice furniture pieces, but it all seems kind of boring without lamps, wall hangings and the like.

This was the first find.  We found this awesome antique brass lamp at a local thrift store.  

Have you ever met one of those little kids with a crazy great-grandparent style name?  You look at them, and think why?  Why would you give that kid such an old name like that.  Then you see the kid in with other kids.  You hear how cute it is for the other kids to use the old grandparent style name, and before you know it, you realize that you actually LOVE the old name too.  I present to you the lamp equivalent.  Señor Hotness found this sucker at the store, and fell in love.  I was totally skeptical and judgy about it.  However, the beauty of having a room furnished with a bunch of vintage pieces is sometimes you can get away with mixing it up with vintage decor from different eras.  Once we put it in the room I knew it was a great fit.  Especially sandwiched between my two vintage freebie chairs.

I found these lamps at the same thrift store.

These things are solid antique brass.  I know they are actual antiques because this brass is HEAVY.

I've always hated brass, but I have discovered that I love it when it has that awesome antique aged patina on it.

As always the Pheebs was more than eager to have her photo taken, and it was too cute not to share.

We needed something bigger to store the extra sheet music we had floating around because the bench just wasn't cutting it.  So I decided to grab some of the many crates we have at our house.  So I made a small crate shelf simply by stacking them.  They aren't glued or nailed so when we move we can reuse them as it, or I can reconfigure them some other way.  The top one holds the music, and the bottom one is the perfect size for the garbage can.

How much better does it look after I committed to some wall hangings?  I ended up moving the awesome clock as well simply because Michael likes to prop open the top of the piano when he plays.  Apparently it makes it sound better.

I found this fantastic large S at Hobby Lobby.  This was marked down 50% off the original price.  I loved that it was a fun funky hammered metal finish.  Everything about it was smart and wonderful...except for hanging it.  It hangs by two holes, but they aren't level.  So using a large piece of paper I measured out the holes.  What I forgot to do was then turn the paper over backwards when drilling the holes.  This was the outcome.

Spoiler alert...I fixed it.  It looked so awesome above this vintage table that I got for my birthday.  Eventually I'm going to paint the bottom of the table, but honestly I have been so insanely busy that it hasn't happened yet.  I'm thinking it probably won't happen until after we've moved.  Also the clock looks WAY better on this table.  My mom bought me that clock for my birthday when I was 24.  I have moved it with us so many times, but its never looked as great as it does sitting there.

Above the couch is my faux architectural salvage piece that just adds to the funk and flair of the room.

The dominate color in the room is a turquoise-y blue, but it has splashes of red, gold and the warm browns of my dark stain pieces.  Somehow everything seems to work together to give it a warm and welcoming space.  Perfect for entertaining friends.

So I tallied up the total spent on furniture and accessories for this room, and they came to a grand total of approximately $525 dollars.  I didn't include the cost of the piano, or of any of the furnishings that we've had for years that found themselves back in this room.  I have always been very blessed to find fantastic pieces that are discounted, free, or things that need a little work.  Its not hard to bring together a room on a budget if you are willing to do the work yourself, and put in the sweat equity needed to bring a project home.  So get out there and make something pretty.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Tales from the Trash Pile: Fudging Architectural Awesomeness

Anyone in love with the DIY channel?  I really like HGTV, but the bulk of their programming seems dominated by House Hunters.  There isn't anything wrong with that show, but it gets old fast.  I prefer design shows that not only utilize smart design, but show us average joes how to pull of the look for less.  The DIY channel seems to marry great design with construction.  I'm a fan for sure.  So after discovering that our TV package included the DIY channel (YEAH) I have been wandering through their viewing selection as I've been pulling late nights getting our house ready for real estate pictures for the listing.  One of my new favorite shows is called Black Dawg Salvage.  Now I cringe every time I see them gut an old structure for all its beautiful parts, but knowing that these items will receive a second chance at life is awesome when you understand the building are going away regardless.

They are always looking for those unique architectural pieces that look awesome on their own, or can be made into something else unique and one of a kind.  I visited an architectural salvage yard in Jackson Mississippi, and it was straight up dreamy.  I'm pretty sure I just floated through there in a daze of possibilities (if only I was independently wealthy).

This is just a sampling of exactly how dreamy it truly was, and as always Miss Phoebe was more than happy to be my willing model.

I will say there was pretty much nothing there that I could afford.  Obviously I want the look, but now I just needed to mimic it for less.

Then the new year arrived, and with it a desire not to be a chunky chick anymore.  So I started taking the occasional morning walk, and I came across this gorgeous pile of garbage!  Can anyone tell what this is?  No?  Its a broken king size bed frame.  This thing is made of extremely nice SOLID wood.  No veneers up in here folks.  It had broken, and you could tell someone had tried to dismantle an animal and done further damage to something that probably could have been fixed from the get go.  I came across this about midway through my walk, and I can tell you I've never finished up a walk so quickly before in my life.  The bulk garbage truck was in the neighborhood hauling off piles of garbage just like my treasure find.

So I practically ran home (a feat in and of itself), and jumped into my suburban, and drove straight there before the garbage truck!  I may or may not have played "We Are the Champions" on my slower drive back home.  To celebrate my obvious victory.

I got home unloaded it in my garage, and just looked at it while waiting for inspiration to strike.

Fast forward a few months, and we are getting the house ready to show.  I have always been awful about hanging pictures and other things on the walls.  It just seems like a lot of commitment.  What if I hate it?  Regardless I needed to dress the walls to just take everything up a notch visually.  Not everyone is into the cool furniture pieces I have.  

My formal living room is a funky mismatch of furniture and styles that all somehow work with each other.  There was a space above my swanky sofa that was screaming for something cool, awesome even. So I went back out, and took a look at my awesome bed pieces again, and came across this broken bit off what I'm going to say was head board.  

It reminded me of some of the cool fancy door headers I've seen them salvage on Black Dawg Salvage.  So I set about transforming this headboard into architectural salvage inspired awesomeness. 

My first order of business was to cut off the joiner pieces that stuck out of either end.  That was a dead giveaway that it was from furniture, and not a piece of architecture at all.  So even though Señor Hotness was gone I gathered my courage and used the circular saw to cut the blasted things off myself.  I am happy to report that I am still in possession of all of my fingers, and no body got hurt although the teen was highly skeptical.  Then I used a rotary sander for the part in the middle where I had actually knocked off half of a broken fleur de lis.  I wanted to leave the edges looking as rough as possible without them actually being in danger of giving someone splinters.  Then I hand sanded the rest so it would take the spray paint better.

This middle part I'm going to gloss over since we had nothing but rain for days on end, and this was literally the only break we had had for 2 days.  Also there is insane flooding happening here in Northern Louisiana.  I feel very blessed that our home was not affected by the flooding because I know several were not so lucky.  Long story short I was so preoccupied with the time that I didn't remember to take any pictures.  I know, rookie mistake.

I used my spray paint stash to give this thing a few good coats of Krylon Blue Ocean Breeze.  After it was dry to the point of handling I brought it inside to finish drying in a less moist environment.  Once it was inside I thought the Blue Ocean Breeze was a little to intense looking.  I needed to dull it down, and help it to look more weathered.  

I opted to use a technique called dry brushing to achieve this look the best.  Dry brushing is done when you barely wet the brush with paint, and then wipe more of it off the brush before putting it on the furniture.  I personally prefer that you can see the brush strokes really well.  These are great, and you can use them to accent different features of your piece.  I was going for the look of an architectural piece that had been weathered outside. So I gather colors from my paint stash to help me out.  The first color I used was Benjamin Moore Wythe Blue, which is a super dreamy blue with a hint (super tiny hint) of green.  I'm a huge fan of the color, and have painted two room in this house that color and our family room in our Texas house this color.  It has a super relaxed beachy quality to it.  After dry brushing that on it helped to mellow out the intensity of the krylon blue.  Next I dry brushed on Krylon Classic Gray followed up with Valspar Shooting Star which is a super brilliant white color (I was very sparing with the white).

Then I let that dry for a hour or so, you won't need much time with the small amounts of paint actually used for the dry brushing process.  Then I used valspar glaze in the color barista (I have been using this same quart for going on 4-5 years still has at least a third of the quart left).

That left it looking...awesome.  Don't mind the pizza boxes.  I horde them to use when painting.

As awesome as it looked sitting on the greasy pizza boxes I thought it looked a 1000 times dreamier perched on the wall above my formal room couch.  It brings just the right touch of funk, and class that the room needed.

And provided just the right backdrop needed for an impromptu sister photo session.

This was the nice polite one that they always take first, but then...

Their true personalities always shine through.

Just a few close ups of some of the dreamier parts of it.

I love the detail that was put into the background.

Just another picture of them looking deceptively cute.

And here is how it looks in the room.

All in all I would put this project in the mission accomplished category.  Also how great was my garbage find?  I mean really that was the best, ever.  Don't forget that it just takes time and imagination to make something plain become something outstanding, and in most cases you can get the look for less (or in this case completely free).   So get out there and make something pretty.