Archive | August, 2012

You Know You’re a Designer When…

31 Aug

….you can’t shop in certain stores because of poor design.

I actually wasn’t planning to blog today, but the mall decided otherwise.

Have you ever heard of the store Love Culture?  Me neither, but apparently one recently opened at the mall by me.  I was intrigued and wanted to check it out- until I took two steps in.

The design was promising.  The entry portal was an amazing patterned mirror/glass glowing element. (Although it took me a minute to find the name of the store on the entrance… not the best branding).  Please excuse the poor cell phone pictures, but I just had to share/vent.

Lit Entry

Your computer does not deceive you- that store is BLUE.  I first thought it was glass tinted for effect.

Blue Store

Nope!  This store is the WORST example of LED lighting I have EVER seen.  The overall design of the store wasn’t bad- it was your standard young/hip store.  If you changed the sign it could be Forever 21 or Wet Seal or (insert generic “hip” store here)  But WOW, the lighting.  Being in that store hurt my eyes and my design sensibilities.  If I was a lighting designer, I’d be crying right now.

LED lighting is the current thing in lighting and can be completely and totally amazing when done right.

Blue LEDs

This. is. not. right.  Your store should not be blue.

Yes, LEDs are naturally blue, however modern technology allows you to get them in any color- including crisp white… even colors to mimic incandescent light.

Love Culture, you have now joined Hollister on the list of stores this design snob will not step foot in.  Congratulations.


Tighten up!

30 Aug

Now that the dining room is trimmed and painted, I surprisingly have no more large projects in immediate the pipeline.  Shocking, I know.

I do have 2 items that are high on my To Do list, however.

The first is studying for the NCIDQ exam.  NCIDQ= National Council for Interior Design Qualification.  Its a 2 day long, expensive exam that I’m still not convinced will help my career, but it certainly won’t hurt it.  After 3 years of putting it off, it was time to (pardon my french) sh*t or get off the pot, so I registered for the exam in Sept.  There’s no turning back now!  Guess that mean’s I need to turn my studying up to high gear.

The second thing on my To Do list (and much more exciting than studying) is dining room chairs!  The room is painted, so I guess it’s time to finally do something with the 6 chairs hanging out in my basement awaiting refinishing.  I just got some of this stuff that’s meant glue and swell the wood, generally tightening up all the joints.

I’ve never tried it before, but Handy Dad recommended a similar product (which I couldn’t find anywhere).  We’ll see how it goes, since all 6 chairs are in need of TLC.  Chair repair is another new frontier for me, so naturally I’ll let you know how it works out (or doesn’t work out).

Once refinished and upholstered in the same colors and fabrics, this collection of chairs is going to be AMAZING in the dining room, don’t you think?


Veggie Garden Lessons

29 Aug

This is our second year making an attempt at a veggie garden.

veggie garden path

We were quite a bit more successful this year than last, but it’s still been a learning experience.  I do think it’s still kind of remarkable considering where the veggie garden started.

And now:

This year we learned…

morning glories

Morning glories would stage a coup of the whole yard if we let them.

I can’t take credit for these, the previous owners had them and they keep coming back with vengeance.  I seriously have to go out and trim it down every other day to keep it from going too far into the path.  But I’ve figured out how to control them!  In addition to trimming them frequently, mulching on our side of the fence made a huge difference.  I still have to weed the little stragglers that keep trying to pop up, but it’s finally manageable.  In the summer, they’re 100% more attractive than the naked chain link fence.  No chain link fence is sexy.  Not even naked ones.

green pepper

If you leave green peppers on the plant long enough, they’ll turn into red peppers or even yellow peppers.  Who knew??  Ok, I know this isn’t revolutionary, but I didn’t know!

Our strawberries have been producing fruit ALL summer!  We didn’t get to eat any until a month ago though.  Why?  Chipmunks decided they looked tasty too and kept beating us to them.  Thankfully, a neighbor recommended the perfect remedy.  Boil hot pepper seeds in water and then spritz the plants with the pepper water.  Works like a charm, and since we’re also growing jalapenos in the garden, it was a free fix!  No, the strawberries don’t end up tasting like peppers.

Tomatoes get diseased, but generally still produce tons of fruit.  Cucumber plans catch tomato’s sickness and most of the plants wither away.  We’ve gotten several cucumbers, but we would have had dozens if the plants stayed health.  This obviously needs to change next year.  Since we don’t have enough room to rotate our crops as recommended, I’m going to hunt for an organic treatment for the soil that will protect the plants next year.

Good thing eggplants don’t catch the same sickness- I can’t wait to try these!  Only thing I’d change about these next year is the location we planted them.  They get huge and are encroaching on my carefully planned path.  I’ll forgive them though, since they’re going to end up giving us several awesome looking eggplants.

One thing’s for certain though- we certainly can grow tomatoes.  More than we can ever eat.

Time to make some pasta sauce!


27 Aug

Charlie’s already embraced his new roommate and has spent most of the day in his new favorite spot, under Mom’s bed.

Daisy’s still on the fence.

I hadn’t realized until now, but I never took pictures of what the guestroom looked like before we started prepping for Mom.  It’s been the extra room that houses our 2nd tv, elliptical, and a super comfy chair and a half that took up the whole room.  Aside from the tv, we have really bought nothing for this room.  The chair and a half found a new home with a friend so we could make room for a guest… in the guest room.

If you missed my previous post about our house guest, my parents’ are in the process of relocating to MA from CT to be closer to the cutest nephew ever (oh, and maybe their daughters, but really it’s my nephew’s fault).  Mom’s new job as a school librarian starts today as the new school year gets ready to start.  Since they haven’t found the right house yet, we have a house guest for a bit.

Even though Mom keeps saying not to worry about design since this is only temporary.  I have a feeling some of my ‘extra’ curtains and wall decor will find it’s way in here.

The next few months will be a very interesting social experiment.  This house was not made for 3 adults (and 2 cats), especially since Mom and I haven’t lived under the same roof since I graduated college.  758r^ (That was Daisy’s contribution to today’s post- she likes to prance over the computer as I blog)

It takes a lot of guts to uproot your life after almost 30 years in the same house, decades in the same jobs, and a lifetime in the same town.



Trim by Numbers

24 Aug

A year and a half living in this house, I’m finally starting to feel ‘settled in.’  I guess all it took was addressing the dining room- why didn’t I do it sooner??

Warning- this is going to be a long one.  Lots of steps.

Before I get to the “HOW,” lets take a look again at the results

Ok, so how did someone with zero moulding/trim experience add detail to my dining room that looks like it’s been there 100 years?

Well, the first step was paint.  I measured down from the ceiling, then used a laser level to connect the dots.  Since the trim was going over the line, I didn’t have to be precise.

I ordered actual picture rail online from here since the local big box stores don’t carry such specialized trim.

When it comes to cutting the trim, this guy certainly helped.  Meet my new adjustable miter saw.  45 degrees? no prob!  60 degrees? piece of cake!  70? no sweat.  Ok, so it couldn’t really do anything in between increments of 5, but that’s where caulk and wood filler come in.

The room has some wonky corners, so it was like putting a puzzle together.

So why not treat it as a puzzle?  I picked a starting point and numbered the wall where each piece of trim needed to be.

As I cut each piece, I numbered it accordingly to avoid the inevitable confusion later.

Even with all my planning, I still managed to forget to cut one piece and had to go back and cut it once all the rest were painted and installed.  That’s how it goes.

I primed and painted the pieces before installing.  That way I would only have to do touch-ups once all the trim was up.

I’m just noticing now that I think I got a little overeager.  I did get pictures of the rest of the process, but they’re so rushed!  Sorry!  I got a little too excited about the end result.

But how can you not be excited when a corner like this

ends up like this

I swear that’s the same corner!

I borrowed Handy Dad’s nail gun and attached the trim to the wall at the studs with finish nails.  I neglected to get pictures before I started with the fillers, though.  Wood filler covered the nail holes and caulk filled the gaps at edges, corners, and the bottom edge of the trim (since my walls were shockingly not totally straight).  The caulk/lack of gaps is really what makes the trim look like it’s always been there.

After sanding the wood filler and touching up lots of paint, I got to do my happy dance.  Although my happy dance looked deceptively like melting into the couch exhausted.  In my head I was doing cartwheels, though, I assure you.

Without any heavy construction, somehow the room feels 2 times the size.  Mission accomplished!

Dining Done

22 Aug

Ok, I get it.  You guys like seeing projects get done, not hearing me talk about them progressing and simply showing you pretty pictures from the internet.  Message received loud and clear.  Results get more views.  Views are like crack to a blogger.  We just want more!  So I need to start delivering.  But, I digress.

Dining room accomplished!! How’s that for results?

Or at least the walls and trim are.  (apologies for the night photos- I was touching up paint until after dinner)

Remember what the dining room looked like about 2 weeks ago?  Nothing offensive, but kind of dreary.

Even the plastic faux wood doorbell cover got a makeover

There were some crazy angles that I had to try and get trim to fit.  The one below is a nice and easy 126 degrees.  Even my new adjustable miter saw balked at it.  With some paintable caulk and white wood-filler, though, I was able to conquer the corners!

The trim fits in with the character of the house.  It looks like it could have been there since the house was built 112 years ago, and naturally, that makes me happy.  so does purple.

Now I can’t wait to raise the rest of the room up to the level of the walls.

Still left to do:

  • Replace chandelier
  • Swag chandelier over table
  • Paint antique ‘liquor cabinet’
  • Refinish collected chairs
  • Paint piano
  • Create built-in ‘china’ cabinet (eventually)


House Guest

21 Aug

Who knew that painting and adding picture rail to the dining room would take this long?! *raises hand*  yeah…. I figured it wouldn’t go as quick as I wanted, but a girl can dream.

Walls are painted, trim is up, painted, caulked, holes are filled… all I have left is some paint touch-ups on the trim.  I can’t wait to REALLY pull the room together, but what pleases me most is that the trim looks like belongs.  like it’s always been there.  yay!

My self-imposed hard deadline to get this all touched up and done is this weekend.  Why this weekend?  We have friends coming over on Saturday, but more importantly, Sunday marks the beginning of having a house guest.  Remember how I mentioned that my parents are moving?  As I mentioned, Mom has a job in Boston metro-west area starting next week.  They sold their house in less than 2 weeks, but something’s still missing.  A house to move into!  So until they find the right house, Handy Dad’ll be staying with his sister in CT and Mom’ll be staying with us during the week.  This will be the first time anyone will actually be staying in our ‘guestroom’ which until now has just been the cats room with the extra tv.  Hope they like they’re new roommate!

Since hopefully (for all of our sake’s) this living arrangement will only be for a month or so, I’m trying not to worry too much about design.  Trying.  Not fully succeeding, though.  Mom’s bringing her own twin bed and dresser (just about all the room can fit), but that still won’t stop me from drooling over some spectacular small guest rooms on Pinterest.

I love that daybed and bolsters. I have a thing for bolsters lately. I can’t figure out a way to fit them into my house, though (yet).

What’s not to love in this one. Chic yet cozy.

A little more country than I usually go, but I loves me a stripe on the wall.

Multi-purpose with built-ins and a perfectly painted ceiling? I could live with this in my house.

So, which room do you want, Mom?

sources: 1/2/3/4