Monday, February 28, 2011

From the iPhone... Color Inspiration

This weekend I was digging around my computer looking for a photo I took last year some time. It was fun to flip through all the phone pictures I've taken on my work adventures and I thought I'd share some this week.

Never thought I'd say this, but I am so inspired by the colors in these rug pads from Home Depot. Lots of these colors are going into my apartment - cobalt blue, touches of neons, jade green, persimmon, mustard, even a little pink, with lots of white, black and gray.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

That one bed I upholstered a long time ago...

Hi guys! Happy weekend! Sorry about not posting yesterday - I was dealing with some technical difficulties that I think are all straightened out now.

More than a year ago, I was determined to make a gorgeous upholstered bed with a headboard, footboard and side rails.

I found this old (probably from the 30's or 40's) crate bed at a vintage furniture shop in Maryland for not a lot of money - maybe $50? $75? It was not much to look at, but it was the perfect base to build on.

I had two 2x10's cut to size at Home Depot and screwed in some metal mending plates on the front and the back to firmly connect the two pieces.

Then I upholstered the headboard, footboard and rails with this pretty suzani-inspired fabric I bought at Interior Alternative in Newark, DE.

I used a roll of brass nail head trim to detail the far edges. A little note: I don't really love the look of the nail head that comes on a roll. The finish varies a bit and the look is kind of cheap when you get up close. That said, I really HATE when nail head trim is not perfectly lined up - drives me crazy!! So since I had so much surface to trim out, I opted for the rolled trim with perfectly straight lines.

Since taking these photos I carefully rubbed a little bit of Buff N Rub on tops of the nail heads and that helped make the finish a little more uniform. (we also put on a mattress cover for the box springs)

I styled the room for the folding screen project, but never really decorated the space like I had planned to before we left Delaware for NYC.

The plan for our bedroom (if we ever get to it! It's lower on the priority list) here in our new apartment is to make the footboard really low by pulling off the 2x10 piece. Then we'll cut out a curved pattern on that board and add it to the headboard and then reupholster the whole thing. I think I'll do a solid color fabric, since we're wallpapering the room (yay!!).

As far as the headboard shape goes, I want something that doesn't scream Pottery Barn. I want it to look custom, but not ridiculous, so that it will stay fresh for at least a couple years. Here are some contenders:

Coastal Living


Elle Decor

I like the width of the top curve here (same with the photo above - an exaggerated curve)...

Caitlin Moran


This sort of Deco-rounded-corners situation is the dark horse option of the group. I'm liking it more and more the longer I think about it. Love the first picture (from Brooke's blog) best.

Velvet and Linen

Lynn Morgan

Calico Corners

But then I look at this pretty bed with all those curves and that nail head trim pushed right to the edge!! Love it...


If you could get a new bed this weekend, what would you do or which one would you buy?

Rolled Fabric Shades

I stumbled across some of Katrin Cargill's work and I noticed that she uses these rolled shades a lot.

As an aside, I love seeing photos of a space we all know from a magazine, but unstyled and less perfect. This first image is from House Beautiful, the second is from Katrin's website.

This image is less pretty, but you can see a lot more details of the room when the photo isn't so blown out and bright. I would kill for that blue pendant.

Anyway, this rolled look is so fresh to me! I love it and am wondering how practical they actually are. Any readers with personal experience with these?

I ordered her book, Katrin Cargill's Curtain Bible, for about $7 on Amazon and I'm excited to see her suggestions for recreating the look. I'll be sure to report back.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Are We Overexposed to Design?

From the comments section of yesterday's post about the DIY Draper chests:

I have a question for you...
I am currently redecorating my living room and dining room. I decided to go with a 70's British bachelor pad inspired look. Sort of a well traveled look with some Kuba cloths and other ethnic textiles for art. Lots of navy and gray.
Then I looked at this Draper project and realized I am still in love with Hollywood Regency. I am not too far into things to make the switch. It's just that things like x-benches, Chiang Mai (love and have been holding onto a piece for a while now), chevron, painted furniture, and so on...seem so done now.
Are we too exposed to design? I love my blogs, especially yours (very honest unabashed flattery), but are we over-exposing ourselves (Keep Calm Carry On)? This is something I have been wondering about for a while now. It seems like once I finally get to taking on a project (making ikat drapes now), it starts to seem cliche.
Do you think we are moving too fast with interiors, or do you think we are moving in the right direction where anything goes. Sort of like fashion, you can still wear your skinny jeans or flares. When you start a new project do you agonize over doing something new, or do you just go with what you love at the time even if the idea has been seen?

House Beautiful

Just two days ago I was brainstorming with my mom an idea for my apartment when I nixed the project we were discussing because I felt like it had already been done on blogs or in magazines. I think we both realized how silly that sounded as soon as I said it. Why wouldn't I do what I really love for my space regardless of whether or not a version has been done before?

I feel like it's especially tricky as a blogger. If I put up a picture of campaign dressers (which I love), I'll usually get one or two anon commenters talking about how campaigners are so over and so boring to them. And here's the tricky part - we look to blogs and magazines for inspiration, for fresh looks, so I can understand in a way why the commenters are annoyed. They're saying - "Yup! Got it. We know campaigners are/were cool. But what's next?"


Are we oversaturated with design trends as bloggers and blog readers? Totally. I have hundreds of blogs in my Reader and sometimes I feel like I'm seeing the same thing over and over again. So I'm there with you.

But I also think it's easy to forget that most people in the world don't read design blogs. Most people don't really know about ikat or suzanis or lacquer or lucite the way we all do. It's crazy to think that someone is discovering a Keep Calm poster for the first time today!

A neighbor stopped by my house a few months ago, noticed my ikat skirted console table and said - "I love your decorating style...but what is that funky fabric on your console table? Crazy!"
And then just a few weeks ago I was meeting with a client here in the city, who reads my blog and who is a blogger herself, and she told me how much she loves ikat but feels like she can't have it in her home - like it's too expected now or something.


Are we decorating for ourselves or for our design-conscious friends (or blog readers)? Every time I feel like some of the sparkle of decorating is wearing off, I realize it's because I'm over-thinking it or worrying too much about what other people will or won't like. Unfortunately I think that comes with the territory as a design blogger. Still, don't let yourself fall into that trap. If one in a thousand visitors thinks your decor is dated because you love your Chiang Mai pillows and the Keep Calm poster, don't sweat it. Guaranteed the other 999 will wonder where you got them.

Maybe it's time we take a collective chill pill about decorating and see it all for what it is and should be - a fun way to express yourself and your style.

What do you say?

PS Have you been watching Portlandia? Shell art is OVER! Seems so appropriate for this post.

PPS All the Miles Redd images above feature ikat chairs, which I love and think I might go ahead and do in my house, even though they have been done before. :)

Monday, February 21, 2011

DIY Draper Chests

We took the water taxi to IKEA on Saturday. The boat was fun, but we didn't have the best time at IKEA. That place is such a madhouse on the weekends! I left the store telling myself that I didn't want to go back there for a very long time. Then. I got home and saw an email in my inbox from Nancy. She was sharing a little link to her great blog and a new project. And just like that, I love IKEA again.

The Rast is a little $39 dresser that was absolutely MADE to be hacked and upgraded.

We all remember this great project, but did you ever imagine that the Rast would make such a lovely Draper chest?

Read all about Nancy's genius project here. It's probably one of my very favorite DIYs.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Mirrors in BHG

Better Homes and Gardens asked me for a handful of ideas on how to spruce up a home with not a lot of cash (which is one of my favorite things to do!). It was so fun to see my name in this month's issue. Thanks, BHG!

My suggestion was to use mirrors for an easy room update. I think there should be at least one mirror in every room, if only for the sparkle factor. If there's a way you can put the mirror opposite a window, you can really brighten up your space.


Mirrors can be really (REALLY) expensive, but they can also be surprisingly reasonable if you're shopping at the right places.

Whenever I'm looking for a high-impact mirror, I check my local antiques markets - you know, those huge stores where dealers can rent out spaces. I can usually find a great vintage mirror for $40 or $50. Remember you're looking for something with an interesting shape - don't get too caught up on the frame's finish or even the condition of the glass. Those things are all easy to change.

Thrift stores are a little more hit or miss with mirrors I've found, but when you score, you score big! Housing Works here in Manhattan has been extra good to me. As always, Craigslist is a great resource. EBay gets tricky if you're trying to source a large mirror on a budget. Shipping costs can be outrageous with the heavier pieces.

I love how strategically placed mirrors can look like windows. So pretty and bright!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

DIY Les Touches

The Brunschwig and Fils snow leopard pattern 'Les Touches' is a favorite in the design blog world (I recently posted some cheaper substitute fabrics here). I get all kinds of emails asking if I had any remnants of this pattern to sell at a discounted price, which sadly I don't. Here's a solution for you if you love Les Touches, but can't afford the price tag.

Emily sent me an email about her dining chairs that she bought on Craigslist and reupholstered in an inexpensive white vinyl fabric from Joanns.

She printed out an 8x10 image of the Les Touches pattern (first image, above) and used a sharpie to recreate the image on her vinyl seats!

I love this idea. I never would have guessed the outcome would look this good. And it kinda seems like a fun art project - like something you could do while catching up on reality shows!

I think the vinyl is a very practical choice for Emily's dining chairs, but really, the sharpie would work well on any fabric with a tighter weave, like an indoor/outdoor canvas or a brushed cotton. Then you could use the fabric for pillows or cushions if you wanted to.

Thanks for sharing your great DIY, Emily!

Do you have a project you'd like to submit? Email me: jenny@