Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Small Bedroom Interior Decor Can Be Gorgeous!


Bedroom interior decor hasn’t changed much over the past decade or so, or even longer. And if you have a small bedroom, you might be sticking with old traditional advice. Stop it. Stop it, right now. 

We’ve all heard it. Scale down on furnishings. Don’t use heavy fabrics. Avoid dark colors. And the classic, shove everything against the wall to maximize floor space. I think that all of this evolved out of the best intentions. When you’re working with a small space, you don’t want to feel like you’re in a cave. 

But I propose that you take everything that you know about small bedroom interior decor, tie it up in a neat little bundle, fashion a pretty bow, and then throw it out the window. To misquote Billy Joel, we love you, little bedrooms, just the way you are. :-)

Instead of looking at a tiny space as a deficiency in your haven, why not embrace it?  That doesn’t mean accentuating the smallness of the space. It just means forgetting about outdated ideas that say little bedrooms can never be as nice as you’d like. Bah, and also humbug on that. 

Here are some of my favorite ideas for transforming a blah diminutive bedroom into a space that you really, honestly, truly love. We’ll start at the walls and work our way in. 

Bedroom Interior Color Matters

White is always fresh, and there’s nothing wrong with it. But the sanitary, blue-toned white can feel awfully hospitalish. It makes me feel edgy, and definitely not relaxed. There’s so much more that you can do with white to soften it. Check out this white palette, which I created from a classic white-on-white bedroom image. And there are about a million more shades than this. You can get the clean look of white without any of the edginess. 


But you don’t have to stick with white. Forget about the fact that the square footage is small. Think about which colors you’d love, and just run with it. It’s true that darker walls can make any room feel smaller. So if you’re devoted to avoiding that, pick a color and move to a lighter shade in the same family. Easy peasy.  

Do you love the warm colors of autumn?



Or maybe a soothing neutral palette?



You really can use any colors that you like. 


Click here to learn how you can create your own color palette from any photo.

There’s nothing wrong with a tiny bedroom saturated in bold color, either. It will make the room look a bit smaller, but it can also look incredibly special, like a little jewel box. And if you don’t want to hose down the room in purples and golds and reds, you can always stick with paler walls and go all out with soft furnishings such as your bedlinens, draperies, pillows and rugs. 

Or, go opposite with dark walls and light neutral soft furnishings. I’m in love with the mushroomy gray on these walls. This is such a soothing bedroom. I’d love to nap there! 

Check Out the Ceiling

When was the last time that you noticed your bedroom ceiling? If it was probably when you changed a light bulb, you’re like most folks. But when you use the ceiling as a design element, you give the room a lot more personality. More important, you draw the eye up. Up is good. 




Beadboard ceilings are classic, and I happen to love them. And glossy paint gives it that much more dimension. If the pale cottage look is a bit too sweet for your taste, you can stain the wood or leave it natural and seal it. It doesn’t have to be white to draw the eye up. 

But what’s really got my attention these days are decorative ceiling treatments. OMG, check out the pic at this link! Yes, it’s a large room. But imagine this detail on a smaller scale on your bedroom ceiling. 

*Swoon*

When you use the ceiling as another bedroom interior decor element, you get more mileage out of your space. And you also give the eye something else to focus on besides mini proportions. 

Don’t Let Your Furniture Suffocate the Walls

If your furnishings touch the walls, you probably have the opposite effect from what you really want. It seems like a space-maximizing trick, but instead it makes the room look cramped.  

Space behind furnishings won’t make the room look smaller. The shadows between furnishings and the walls gives the room a sense of depth. Without shadows, everything looks flat and dull. 

See? 




Your headboard might need to fit close, but you can still leave an inch or so. As for everything else, let the furniture and the walls breathe. 


Try to Incorporate a Chair

If you’re battling for space with a small bedroom interior, the last thing on your list of must-haves is probably a chair. But a bedroom chair boosts its comfort level about a million percent. It also looks awesome.

It doesn’t have to be a huge chair. A small one in what my mother calls “lady-size” is ideal. Plush is good, and it’s also a great spot to read. But it doesn’t have to be a tufted chair. Even a small wooden chair with a cushion on the seat makes the room look well appointed. 

If a chair won’t work, what about a bench? You can situate one at the foot of the bed, under a window, or along any awkward wall. Seating is good.





Think Vertical for Bedroom Interior Storage

Take a look at your bedroom and notice how much wall space isn’t being used. It’s probably a lot, at least if you don’t count any of the artwork that you might have.  You can claim any of it for storage, and it’s easier than you might think. 

A bookcase like the one in this photo can fit between the wall studs. It doesn't have to project out as much as this one does. If it recesses into the wall, it takes up virtually no floor space. Situated on the left and right of the bed, you can bump out the lower portion of the book case to make built-in nightstands. 

A typical wall has about 4 - 6 inches of empty space depth between the studs, and the studs in most homes are about 12 - 16 inches apart. The location of the studs might not be ideal for centering your bed between. But if you choose a wider section, you’ll have room to center the bed and trim molding can make the whole area cohesive. 

The only place where I don’t recommend between-stud cupboards is on an exterior wall. You’d have to ditch the insulation, and that’s just a bad idea on an outer wall. But any interior walls are perfect. Just remember that there are wires inside most walls, so your contractor might have to re-route some of them. It’s not really a big deal for a professional.

Tiny, diminutive, itty-bitty, little bedrooms can be enormous on style and function. You can’t change the square footage. And tricks of the eye only go so far. So instead of ignoring a small bedroom and not even trying to make it great, or worse — using mini-furniture in the hopes of making it appear larger, just roll with it. 

A small bedroom can also be flat-out gorgeous! 


Saturday, August 1, 2015

Pick my Folk Victorian House Paint Color! The Winner is...


My house is gonna be red.

Red, red, red.

Scarlet, oxblood, currant.

Garnet, wine, or maybe even tomato.

I'm just not sure which red, at least not just yet. I am sure that the Mr. will have an opinion. Just as soon as I tell him which color I've chosen, that is.

It wasn't an easy decision to come to. There's white, which is universally tidy and clean. And that was what I thought I'd land on when this whole process began. White is also much cheaper than red, since contractor-grade is readily available in white. And then there's the slate blue, which I do like a lot.

But, no. There's a reason why red keeps turning my head. And so, there you have it.

I love all of these houses for different reasons. The one at the top is a personal favorite because it doesn't scream red. It more suggests it, with a bit of mellow brown mixed in.


I think I like this one so much because it looks so happy. White trim, and happy little white picket fence.



This house appeals to be because it's more subtle. I would probably go with a more red-red than this (It almost looks coral on my screen), but I really like the taupey-gray trim.




Now, this is a house!  It's definitely bold. But the Mr. would love it. He has three favorite colors: red, black and gray. As you can imagine, that severely limits my ability to paint or otherwise decorate inside or out without making him do the frowny face. I'm not sure that I could live with this much black trim. I do, however, think that when he sees these choices, this one will be his pick.



This one, I like because it's also more mellow. The putty-colored trim softens the red and makes it not quite so bold. At least that's my take.



But now, if I had to choose a favorite, this one might actually be it. This looks nothing like my house. But there's something about the play of red paint and natural cedar that makes my little heart flutter. My house was originally all cedar. And it's still under the old Masonite someplace. Seeing this combination makes me wonder whether I could pull off a similar combination here.

I still don't know when I'll be able to paint. I would love to start tomorrow! But alas, it has to wait. At least a little while longer. But one thing is for sure. It's definitely gonna be red.

What do you think? Do you have a favorite among these reds?


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Exterior Paint : It's Gotta be Done



I’ve been thinking a lot about paint these days. Exterior paint, to be exact. My poor old farm house still looks like it always has from the outside. And while that’s been a definite asset for our property taxes, it really would be nice to pull into the driveway and smile instead of sigh. My neighbors would probably be happier, too. 

Three very different directions have been rolling around my head. First, there’s the clean look of white. 

My brother tells me, “Sis, a nice coat of white paint makes all the difference in the world. Everything looks nice and tidy.” He’s right, of course. And my house is definitely a prime architectural specimen for white paint. This old folk Victorian has plenty of peers the same color. Plus, there’s something nice about a simple white house. 





But then my bohemian side pokes out her head. She likes bold colors. She likes RED! That’s a new thing with me. I spent over a decade clinging to all things taupe and taupe-adjacent. A former landlady used to laugh and say that no matter where I lived, she would always know my home just by walking in the front door. Because every house of hers that I lived in, and there were a few, I painted taupe. 

Or taupe-adjacent. 

I do love this red, though. I’m not a fan of cherry red or burgundy red, but I love a warm, sort of barn red. 



Once that’s settled down, my sensible side kicks my bohemian side in the shins and says, “No, no, no. You want blue!” Ok, not true blue, not primary color on the color wheel blue. But blue adjacent? I think grayed-down blues are very nice. I remember a long time ago, seeing a paint chip that was called "Federal Blue," and that's always been my bar for gray blue. 

And with white trim, blues can also look very clean. It’s the contrast, I imagine. I really do like the idea of a blue house. And the neighbors might not be as shocked as they would with red.





Oh, but then I remember my poor hubby. He likes red, but maybe not for the whole exterior. He is “meh” about white. I can't even consider anything in the same zipcode as brown, since he hates it so much. And I’m not sure what he thinks about blue. What he likes is gray. 

Not grayish something. Just plain old gray. Battleship gray. Bless his heart. But I do think that maybe, with the right level of gray, that might work, too. Especially with a bright colored door. 




I’m just not sure. I mean, I am sure that the house must be painted. Baby poop brown, which is what I've got now,  is nobody’s favorite. And I really am tired of having the ugliest house on the block. 

What do you think? 

This really shouldn’t be as difficult as it is.



xo

~Carolee





Paint can image credit: United Soybean Board https://www.flickr.com/photos/unitedsoybean/ 


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

DIY Bohemian Country Kitchen Remodeling Ideas


So lately I have been thinking about reworking my country kitchen. Again. I know, I already did that. But the foundation is sinking again, and all of the cherry cabinets that I didn't even like in the first place are separating. Now, I could fix the house and try to wedge the cabinets back together. But since it’s making me a little madder every day, I’m just about over the whole thing, and looking for remodeling ideas. 

There is no more sigh of happiness when I walk in that room. What I feel is a little closer to despair with some ennui blended in for good measure. It bums me out. Big time. The problem, of course, is funds. I'll fix the house, because that has to be done. But I'm not loving the idea of keeping everything else as it is. 


I am so in love with this kitchen that I don’t even know where to begin.

Now, money and I have never been great friends. That might be the reason why the mishmash, eclectic style that I am most comfortable with evolved. I have different names for it on different days, but it’s a bohemian, shabby, gypsy, witchy, bohemian farm house sort of thing. Some people love it, others hate it. Meh. It’s my house. And because I change things in my house the way I change my nail polish, I rarely have commitment issues. If I hate it, out it goes. Eventually. 

Some of you can decide that you want a new kitchen, and you’ll just head on out to the Home Depot and make it happen. My life has never really been like that. I have learned patience over the years. It’s the joy of the ride, not just the destination. 

I save my pennies. I shop sales. I scour thrift stores. I buy things on lay-away, paying small bits at a time toward whatever it is that I need. I habitually visit the Habitat for Humanity ReStores, both in Knoxville and Oak Ridge. Knox Rail Salvage and I are old friends. I try never to buy anything full price or on credit if I can help it. These things have served me well. 

I’m increasingly interested in freestanding cupboards instead of built-ins. 


So on my bohemian, eclectic, country kitchen, I’m trying to come up with some remodeling ideas. I can build cabinets. That’s not a problem, and I know how to do it on the cheap. And when I say cheap, I mean that each new cabinet would cost me no more than about $10, $15 tops if I by new hardware, which I probably won’t. I’m a major fan of reusing what I can. 

I could build all that I want and need for no more than about $100. I didn’t leave out any zeroes there. I already have a garage full of lumber. Full, I say. 

Seriously enamored with deep red and open shelves these days. The beadboard ceiling is nice, too.


I’m trying to tap my inner inspiration fairy. I am positive that the black granite countertops are outta here. I might reuse it elsewhere, or I might sell it. I haven’t made up my mind on that just yet. Mr. V. loves it, but I don’t think it fits with this house. 

So when I have some spare time, which is increasingly rare but also increasingly divine, I think about my sad little kitchen. Well, sad big kitchen. It's huge. 

Blue isn't half bad, either. And again with the mismatched cupboards, which I love.

What will it look like? How will it function? I have no idea just yet. I wish I was still in contact with my former landlady. She really knew how to take a bad kitchen and transform it into something that not only looked great, but functioned so well that it was a pure joy to be there. I wish I had even half her talent. She wasn't as enamored with the eclectic country kitchen look as I am, but she'd probably indulge me. 

Until I’m ready to dive in, I’ll peruse Pinterest and Houzz. At least there I can get lost in dreams about my new kitchen, if only for a little while until I have a work deadline to meet. 

If you have any ideas on what I should do with my kitchen, please don’t keep them to yourself!  Did I mention that I'm in need of inspiration? 


Monday, November 4, 2013

Stripping 123 Years of Paint off My Victorian Staircase

Last week I decided to strip the paint off my staircase. Because I have nothing better to do, right?

This is what it looked like before I started. Pay no attention to the Exorcist Dog.

I will eat your soooul!  Not really. She might eat your pizza, though.

It's not that I don't like the black and white paint. Black and white is much better than the various shades of green that it was when we first bought the house. If you look close, you can see some of the green on the baseboard, just as it turns to go up from the landing. I was still painting when Doodle decided she needed to go upstairs.

But a year ago, give or take, I had a Twitter exchange with Bob Vila, and he said he thinks my staircase is American Black Walnut.

American Black Walnut. That's way better than black and white paint.

Ever since, all I've been able to think about while walking up and down that staircase is what's hiding underneath all that paint. Because stripping a staircase is no small project, I just tucked it away for later.

Later is apparently the casual term for Friday, Nov 1, 2013.

I should back up a bit. There was a minor disaster in my office last Friday. I'd decided to clean the white carpet, but wound up with a spray of muddy water, and a much worse mess than if I'd left it alone in the first place. While picking up the chemicals for a different steam cleaner, I spotted paint stripper. After a brief chat with the Ace Hardware dude, I walked out of the store with my steam cleaner chemicals, and a can of stripper.

I paid for them.

Because I do things like this, I brushed a coat of stripper on one small part of the newel post before heading upstairs to work on the muddy carpet. I had to test it, after all, since there were who knows how many layers of old paint that needed to just go away.

I should say that I have stripped and scraped an awful lot of paint over the years. But this staircase is 123 years old. And the previous owners really, really loved their paint. There were so many layers, the whole thing started to take on a rounded, almost Disney appearance.

Once the top layer of paint started to look like a pair of baggy socks, I brought out the scraper. With my first scrape through the goopy mess, I found green, more green, white, assorted shades of beige, brown, and tan, more green (this time, Kelly green), and then numerous layers of some sort of varnish.

Eeeuuuwwww!


Yeah. We ain't playin in this house, not when it comes to covering up wood.

I used a product called Klean Strip. It's thick, it's gelatinous, and it's nowhere near as easy to brush on as the can implies. But it's recommended by the Ace Hardware dude, and it doesn't dry out as fast as thinner paint strippers.

Fastest! Strongest! Best! 


Now I am aware of citrus strippers, which are safer (and a lot less smelly). They do work beautifully for some projects. The problem with the citrus stripper approach is that I would really love to rid this staircase of all its superfluous paint while I am still young enough to brandish a 5-in-1 paint scraper.

I should also say that I could use a heat gun, but I don't own an infra red model. A standard heat gun heats up the paint too much for a project like this. There is almost certainly lead-based paint under there somewhere, and a standard heat gun would help it release its leady goodness into the air. Yum yummy. So to chemicals, we go.

I will not be finished with this project anytime soon, that's for sure. But I can see the old wood grain in some areas now. And that's enough to spur me on.

What would you change in your own house, if you had enough time and energy? 

Here's some of my progress so far:





Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Spines In, Thumbs Down

I heard and then read something this morning that makes me wonder where I've been for the past few years. Apparently there is a decorating trend which calls for flipping around the books on your bookshelf. That's right; spines turned in, not out.

This is one of the book shelves in my house. Pretty average.

Yes, I actually kept most of my college textbooks.


I rearranged that shelf to give you an idea of what a spines-in / pages-out bookshelf looks like.

Poor Calvin and Hobbes has seen better days.

Is it just me, or is this plain weird? Do these people not read? Or am I the only one who needs to see the spine of a book to know which book it is?

Mr. Vagabond and I have always adored books, both to read and for their aesthetic appeal. I am constantly changing around my book cases to make them look a little bit different. I've got nicknacks mixed in with books here and there, some larger books are stacked up and lying flat and there are magazines stacked on a couple of shelves, too. But one thing I've never considered is flipping books around backward.

If a uniform color scheme is what these decorators are aiming for, why not make matching book jackets for all of the books? That might actually be cute. It could be done with wrapping paper or unpasted wallpaper. The pasted kind might stick to the book.

Something like this:

Cut some wrapping paper (Sorry, Mr. Baldacci).

Fold it to fit the book.

Tuck the ends of the paper around the ends of the book cover and voila: Book jacket

If plain or white is what you're after, flip the paper over, use white paper or even brown Kraft paper.


Maybe even add labeling stickers to write the title on.

Book spines are functional. They help hold books together and guard against dust and UV rays. With the spines turned in, page edges will age and yellow a lot faster. Plus it just looks odd, and not groovy odd. Weird odd.

My official, and not terribly important judgment call for this trend is Thumbs Down.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Once Upon a Window Seat, Part IV: The Final Chapter

Catch up on the project with Part IPart II and Part III.


The mostly finished window seat and book cases.
Building a window seat and book cases in our living room proved to be challenging, but the work wasn't over after the last board was fastened and the last cabinet door hung. I wanted the wood to complement the other dark woods in the room. Woods that are likely to remain, such as the mahogany china cabinet, antique piano and foyer doors. 


This piano is probably the oldest thing that I own. 


One thing that breaks my heart about this house is that the old, original parquet floor in the foyer only comes part of the way into the living room. Oh, to have parquet throughout the house!

I used oil-based stain because it has a longer working time than water-based. With pine, you never can tell how stain will absorb, so I wanted something that I could work into the wood really well. I chose antique walnut, which is the same stain that I used on the foyer doors. It also complements the piano and china cabinet. Wearing rubber gloves is a must when working with stain, especially if you're covering a lot of ground.  

Find an old rag that you don't mind sacrificing, and rub the stain into the wood really well. When you wipe off the excess, work in the same direction as the wood grain to avoid dark streaks. 

Smaller cabinet door for under the window seat.
The trim around the cabinet doors doesn't match the plywood perfectly because they're different species with different levels of porosity and wood grain. Once I wiped on polyurethane after the stain was set, the colors turned richer and the differences became less noticeable. Although we hadn't painted the room yet, I taped off the walls around the cabinets to protect them from stain.

Although I knew better, I used masking tape to tape off the cabinet. It peeled off some of the paint primer on the walls. If you try this at home, do yourself a favor and use painter's tape.

After staining, I installed the cabinet hardware. Prefab cabinets come with pre-drilled holes for hardware. When you build your own, you have to figure out where the hardware goes. 

First, I measured the distance between bolt openings on the door handles. They're usually somewhat standard, but measuring helps avoid major screw ups. I marked the edge of the cabinet door to show where the handle should fit.  

Sometimes it's easier to measure from the 1-inch mark than from the end of the tape.


Tiny silver marks on the door from a washable marker help with alignment.


Finding the width of the trim helps you find the center where the handles should fit.
Speed Squares are such amazing little tools. So simple, but they help you keep everything straight. 


Speed Squares have a perfect 90-degree angle, which keeps things straight as long as the edge of the board is also straight.


To the extent possible, keep the drill bit horizontal to the plane of the cabinet door. If the bolt holes are tilted, the bolts won't align with the door handles.


Slip the bolts through the back side of the door and into the handles, and tighten them until the handle fits snug against the door. 
After installing the hardware, there was one more thing left to do. I deliberately left the back wall of the book shelves bare because I wanted to decoupage pages from old books. 

I cut out certain paged and pasted them on the wall with thinned wood glue and a sponge paintbrush. It's like going back to kindergarten craft time, except that nobody tells you not to eat the paste (Don't eat the paste!). The only rules that I discovered are that thinning the glue with water makes it easier to spread, but thinning it too much can warp the pages. 


This is my Edgar Allan Poe section when I'd just started the job. 



Lime green flip flops aren't mandatory. 

We ran out of time because company was arriving, so I had to put the remainder of decoupaging on pause. I do that a lot, putting off projects. 


A bit of advice for decoupaging. Cover the surface with pages that aren't special before layering on the pages that you want to see. That way, you won't have to cut and trim and cuss to make the pages fit the way you want them to. I trimmed and cussed a bit. 


Besides finishing the back walls, there are two more things that have to be done. I still need to finish sewing the bench cushion cover, and I want to install a plant shelf between the two book cases. Mr. V. and I found two of these brackets at a little antique shop, and they will fit under the left and right ends of the shelf. 

$20 for a pair of these. Not too shabby. 
It will look a little something like this, except that I'll fasten them to the cabinets so that Mr. V. doesn't have to hold them forever. 

He isn't crazy about modeling for me.
All in all, I would call this project an official success. The bench seat is so sturdy that I can walk on it without any bends or creaks, and the cabinets are so sound that I think that's where I'll hide next tornado season. 

Building a custom cabinet takes a lot of planning, flexibility and compromise, especially in an old house where nothing is square.  But that's also part of the fun. You can customize it any way that you like. As long as the structure is sound, anything goes.