photo Whaling-City-Cottage-8-2015_zpsoygeotsf.jpg

lavender dining room

You may have seen on Instagram that I painted the dining room lavender over Christmas break.  This seems like a blatant crazy pants idea, even to me, who bought the paint, wielded the roller and purposefully made our dining room purple.  But stay with me, guys – this might be a good idea.  If it doesn’t turn out like an Easter egg.

Some background info….a year ago we did a mini renovation of our dining room, after living with the famous Pepto pink mural for a long time.  As many of you know, painting over the mural was a difficult decision (IG peeps had all the feels about this) but not even the glow of a thousand candles could make this shade of pink flattering.

This picture makes it seem ok but trust me, it was awful.

from the MLS listing

At dinner parties, I prefer my skin NOT to resemble rotten meat.  Also I think the artist used Side Show Bob as a model for those trees.

So, we ripped out the ancient emerald green carpet (oh the dunes of dust under there), painted the subfloor, and painted over the mural.

Notice the planter in the window….we’ll get back to that later

When we did the makeover, it was February (aka. zero daylight, vampire feelings) and I didn’t have a wall color picked out, so I just went with white (BM Swiss Coffee).  After the dank pink walls and green carpet monstrosity, this was a breath of fresh air, but a more permanent decision about the walls had to be made eventually.  For almost a year the inspiration lightning bolt did not strike.

Then right before Christmas I got this in my inbox from Habitually Chic.  The lavender entryway in Kate Spade’s NYC apartment.

I love how the traditional wainscoting and polished floors play off the unexpected wall color, plus the salon-style art on the walls is amaze-balls.  Touches of black look incredible with this color too.

Now…this color may seem a little close to the old pink dining room but I decided to go for it anyway.  However it wasn’t easy finding the perfect lavender-taupe-y shade that didn’t scream baby’s room or old pink dining room.  I went through 7 samples before landing on Sherwin Williams Angora.

Forgive my poorly-lit photos – this is literally all I could get out of this north-facing room on a sunny Saturday.

D-ig it!

I recently spray painted my Craigslist ginger jar lamps for the third time and the new emerald color (Rustoleum meadow green) is a gorgeous foil for the lavender.  The consensus on IG was for black shades on these puppies.

print: Society 6   //   frame: Ikea

I get most of my art at junk stores/antique stores/goodwill/estate sales and that process takes time. But I knew there should be big graphic modern piece over the sideboard.  This Matthew Korbel-Bowers print caught my eye when I saw it in Erica’s living room.

The hardest part will be filling the walls with cool art that looks collected over time and not forced #tallorder.  I have some cool stuff left in my collection (the lake painting below) and recently picked up a couple cool items at estate sales.  The gentleman sketch below and the Italian ruins photograph.

I also found French furniture illustrations for 50 cents each at Cove Antiques in New Bedford.

This room seriously needs more furniture too.  I’ve been eye-ing the Ikea Malsjo glass door cabinet for the spot where The Ladies are chillin’ right now.

It’s actually a very cool piece in person but it’s a little spenny, even for Ikea, so I haven’t picked it up yet.  380 clams!

And finally, the former planter-in-the-bay-window.  Some people suggested we keep it, maybe put boxwoods in there, which could be cool but this is a north-facing window and besides boxwoods smell nasty.  I can’t have that near my food, so we closed it up.

This definitely should be a window seat, especially since we already perch our little butts there.  But commissioning a custom cover in absolutely necessary performance fabric?  Benjamins!!!  Technically I could attempt this myself but I’m an angry sew-er.  My children, and my cousins’ children, who own quilts I’ve made….I’m sorry to tell you but they’re filled with rage.  The lovely Holly recommended Masterson Upholstery in the ‘Bucket so I’m going to hit them up for a quote.

That’s the dining room update for now.  Lots more work to be done.  What do you think about the lavender?  Am I nuts?


new year, new updates

Happy New Year, everyone!!!  I hope you had a wonderful holiday season.  I’m seriously looking forward to 2017, despite our current, ummm, political situation.  I’ll be turning 40 this summer (gulp) and hope that 2017 brings a lot of positive growth and changes.  Blogging took a backseat during the long holiday season but we were still working on projects around here so there’s plenty to update you about and of course talk about 2017 projects.

This is a ridiculously long post, so buckle up.

The Living Room
The goal was to finish this room before our holiday soiree in mid-December….and we managed to pull it off!  Last time I shared our progress, we had just painted the floor and the newly-battened walls but the fireplace mantel hadn’t been built yet.


Designing and building the mantel was a major team effort with my husband, especially since we had zero experience and the design/trim was basically eye-balled from looks I loved.  Liking the look of something is one thing but executing it is quite another.  We  pulled this one out of thin air.  What trim do we get?  How do we build the layers of trimwork so it looks classy and not like inexperienced idiots (that’s us) slapped it together?  A lot of math, engineering, and freaky wood cuts went into this but the outcome is totally worth it.

First we built a flat wood base that encompassed the space the mantel would take up. Then we added the trim on top of that, along with the mantel shelf and dentil crown molding trim underneath.



Not too shabby.



This room is big and furnishing it will take time.  Plus I’m still trying to figure out what to furnish it with.  Most of it seems like pointless space.  Take this side of the room…..sorry this is the old  pic, I didn’t take a full view updated one….



We don’t really need a second seating area back there, so I’m thinking maybe two tall bookcases flanking the window with articulating arm sconces above them and a round, skirted table in the bay.  ???  The bay window isn’t full height so that nixes the option of curtains, which is why I like the idea of bringing in fabric with the skirted table to soften things.

Something like Maura’s room.


However, on the other side of the room I can totally picture pinched pleat linen curtains with this curtain rod from PB.  But would it be weird to have an asymmetrical curtain situation going on?




Let’s not talk about the TV situation (yes it’s from 1985, yes it was free, yes it’s covered in stickers) and this terrible over-lit picture.


It’s embarrassing.  I swear 2017 will be the year we come out of the dark ages.  Something like zees (French Kiss reference).


The Powder Room
For the past two years I’ve blabbed that we’re going to renovate the powder room during the next round of ORC.  But of course it hasn’t happened yet.  Basically we’re reluctant to spend money on this room when the tile – although YELLOW- is in perfect condition and there are so many other more pressing projects around here (i.e. fogged up, broken seal windows; wonky electrical issues, etc).  Zap.

Here’s the room the day we moved in.  Trust me, in person, the wallpaper was dingy and gross.  Not Anthro at all.

yellow bath

After stripping the wallpaper two years ago (and ditching the yellow toilet), I did nothing but prime the walls, thinking we’d renovate “soon.”  Since we’ve now decided to hold off on the renovation till 2018, I realized that the walls needed more than primer in the meantime.  Painting them black seemed like a good way to balance the sweetness of all that yellow.  We also knocked out that pointless vanity.



Lots of black and white art to come on these walls and a bamboo bookcase in that nook.

The Office
This is really flexible space and the way we use it will probably change over time.  We used it as an office (and loved having dedicated space for that) until the living room renovation happened at which point we moved the sofa, armchairs and TV in there.  That turned out to be super cozy, especially during the warmer months since the screen porch is right off it.

Notice the weird scalloped 1950’s trim.  It needs to die.


Anyhoo, the other side of the room looks like this.  Den central designed for a ginormous TV.  Hi, ceiling fan.  Also die.


Long term, this built-in probably needs to be re-built but for now we’re going to work with it, see how things pan out.  Painting it is a must, likely BM Polo Blue.  Not the green you see tested on the side.  Oh and the green toile wallpaper stays of course.


Again, inspiration by Maura.  If you’re not following her IG account, you’re missing out.


We need to finish painting the trim and doors in this room too, once my husband muds and sands the ceiling from our tear down of the scallop trim.  Spoiler alert, that did not go smoothly.  The ceiling behind the trim is a different height than the rest of it.  In part because, according to our neighbors, this ceiling was re-done around the trim, after the bathtub upstairs fell through the rotting ceiling.  So glad we weren’t here for that.


Phew, well that’s all for now.  Bless your heart if you’re still reading this tome of a post.  Lots going on here in 2017.    Thanks for your all support, dear readers of this lil’ blog.



living room renovation update

It’s been 5 weeks since we started tearing up the living room and we’re finally in the home stretch.  Well, I say that with optimism because the hardest part is still ahead of us – building the mantel.

Let’s revisit the oh-so-glamorous BEFORE.


What I imagine a fireplace in Trump’s lair looks like.


And here’s where we stand this morning.


Please ignore the mediocre pics in this post.  It’s been cloudy for like a week and I just finished painting the subfloor last night so I didn’t want to walk on it.  It’s hard to photograph a room you can’t actually go into… 730am on a cloudy morning.

The Walls
It took a while to patch the many problems on the walls, including the former pointless cubbies.


After lots of mudding and sanding and clean up, we were finally ready to add our batten wall treatments.  This room is too big for my taste (and furniture stash) so I wanted to bring the walls “in” somehow.  Adding texture would make the room seem smaller and cozier, more like a library than a bowling alley.

Initially I was thinking shiplap but then I worried it would be too busy.  Plus even faux shiplap like we did the mudroom would get costly in a room this size.  Floor to ceiling battens were the way to go.  Subtle texture that wouldn’t break the bank.


You can see in this pic I’d started roller-ing on the wall color – BM China White in eggshell finish.


For the battens, we bought two 4’x8′ sheets of 1/4” hardwood plywood ($13 each) and ripped them down to 2” wide strips with a band saw.  A lot of math later, we were air nailing the battens every 22”.


The Fireplace
I swear we stared at the green marble colossus for a week, trying to figure out what to do.  Somebody cemented those slabs on real good and we worried that demo-ing it would open an expensive can of worms, possibly compromise the fireplace and get us in over our heads.  Not to mention that slate slabs for the fireplace surround turned out to be super spenny.  Then I found these black slate 12″x 24″ tiles at Home Depot.


The color and texture was perfect and with the straight edge on the tile, I thought we could lay them over the marble without grout lines and they’d look like slabs of slate. ???  It couldn’t get uglier so we decided to give it a go.

To rough up the surround and make sure the thinset and tile would stick, we took a diamond blade grinder to the marble.  Hideous green marble.  Hideous.  Nobody panic, everybody breath.


Then we laid the tile, using as few cuts as possible in the most visually logical layout possible.


I love it.  You can still see the lines where the tiles meet but that makes a bit rustic and gives the eye a break, instead of just a cube o’tile.

The Floor
Last night, I finally painted the floor which was so satisfying after all the prep work.  I used Sherwin Williams Porch and Floor paint in Urbane Bronze.





Now….to build the mantel.  Here’s the direction we’re heading.  Simple dentil molding mantel.  The mantel will be painted the same color as all the trim – BM China semi-gloss finish.


We’re almost there!!!  And then the kids want to mantel to look like this for Halloween.

CLX100116_106country living

What do you guys think?  Do you miss the green marble and seafoam carpet?  😉




my first trip to brimfield

Last week I finally made the pilgrimage to Brimfield Antiques Show!  My stepmom and her boyfriend were out for a visit (yes, she’s still my stepmom even though she’s not married to my dad anymore) so the three of us set our alarms for pitch dark o’clock and headed out.  Caution – iPhone pics ahead.


I’d read a bunch about parking etc and what to expect, and had downloaded the Brimfield Flea Finder app, so we were fairly prepared.  The app also said there’d be clam cakes and fried haddock sandwiches but that was a lie.  A vicious lie.  I put on a solid mile of extra steps trying to find those clam cakes.

Given all the hype about Brimfield, my expectations were pretty high.  This was the mecca where my wildest hunter gatherer dreams would come true, right?  I’d find all the weird cool (and affordable) stuff I didn’t even know I needed.  And we’d live happily ever after, Julia Roberts laughing about how we found each other at Brimfield.  Oh chic vintage cheetah statues flanking my fireplace….you’re the best.  


This was not to be.  At one point, I asked how much a nude painting cost and was told $1,200.  Twelvehundredfrickingdollars.  So I stood there, pretending to consider the offer, in my filthy Converse and disintegrating LL bean rain jacket.  Then bolted from the tent before I broke something.  What the florp?  You know what would make this all better?  A clam cake.


Call me crazy but not much of what I saw blew my hair back.  It was either too Colonial or mid century or industrial.  And a lot of what I did see and love was out of my price range.  Overscale art apparently all costs $600.


Mostly I was on the hunt for a 3×5 rug but finding one in the right size and color with just the right amount of wear, at a price I could stomach, was not easy.  This little cutie came close but ultimately I passed.


In my defense, New Bedford has some amazing antique-ing and junking in town, so I was expecting that x10.  All in all, I would totally give Brimfield another shot.  For the spectacle and because you never know, maybe next time the stars will align.

The ginger jars on the right here….I really wanted to take two of those home.  But they were $150 each.


What do you all think of the show?  What are your favorite things you’ve found there?  Does it live up to the hype?  Maybe I’m just too used to finding deals in New Bedford.  Or am I just enticing you to come down here and raid my secret spots?  Nevermind, nothing to see here….



good bye, seafoam nightmare

As summer winds down, we’re plotting what house projects to knock off the list this fall.  Keeping in mind the cost, bang for our buck, longevity, cozy factor going into winter, etc.  Luckily we still have plenty of heinous rooms to choose from.  What rose to the top of the heap though is….our embarrassing living room.  The seafoam bowling alley.

Here it is the day we moved in.  Shudder.


We stripped the wallpaper off this past Christmas to reveal seriously funky walls.  Not sure what that smoke/dust is….


Call me crazy but this room is too big, right?  I don’t have the furniture for this action.  You can see the retro step-down to the living room on the right here.



It doesn’t help that our temporary living room in the office is cozy as hell.


My husband and kids keep asking if we can keep the TV and sofa in here.  But my suspicion is, if we have a den, we’ll never set foot in the living room again.



So we can’t abandon the living room.  We gotta make this work.

First up – add faux board and batten treatment to the walls from floor to ceiling.

f599e8ea1610bb14a66d259e108a53efhouse and home

28172001d985cb1eac71580ee7ff6564lauren liess

As for color, I’m planning to paint the walls and trim the same off-white.  BM Sea Pearl is my top choice right now.

sea pearl

Or a tad lighter with BM Cloud Cover.

cloud cover

But I’m leaning towards the more saturated Sea Pearl.  ???

These pointless wall alcoves are getting the sledgehammer.  The designers kindly recessed them into the wall (Liz Lemon eye roll) so we’ll have two huge holes to seamlessly patch with drywall.  Good times.


I’m planning to put the TV on a dresser or sideboard in this spot and build a gallery wall around it.

8e669061aab86d3be33f8f890848a157alison piepmeyer

Next up is the fireplace – it’s the focal point of the room and desperately needs a face lift.  Also this fireplace wall is soooo long and totally without architecture.



No more green marble and chintzy mantle.  I’m picturing a classic mantle with dentil trim and charcoal slate surround.

a1a45e607569b9dfddb1459e1ed6c0e2kate marker

8b87b2f9824096cf1684e9fb8f235269my domaine

70dbc0326df47cc061ad12d36a1d67c5L. Kae Interiors

I’ve picked out this mirror for over the fireplace.



Now, to annihilate the seafoam carpet.


As many of you know, hardwood floors are unfortunately NOT hidden under the green carpet in the living room.  We had a similar situation in the dining room and decided to paint the subfloor while saving up for hardwood floors. We’ll do the same treatment in the living room and stick with the same color too (BM Aegean Olive).


For floor covering, I want something neutral and cozy and have been going cross-eyed researching jute rugs.  It has to be affordable, not filled with dust and shedding fibers, and have a cool weave that looks expensive.  A tall order.  But I think I found a winner with the Maui braided jute rug from Rugs USA.


Our coffee table situation is shaping up nicely too.  I scored a vintage Ming-style coffee table off Craigslist for $40 bucks.


The top was a wreck though, like a honey badger had been at it, but nothing wood putty and sanding couldn’t take care of.  I’m putting oil based primer on tonight and then it’ll get a few coats of BM Advance in semi-gloss White Dove.

There are sooooo many decisions to make in the living room!  Furniture, curtains, bamboo blinds, lighting, art.  This is a huge space and we basically have nothing to fill it with.

What do you think about plans so far?  How would you fill this room up?  Make it look cozy, collected, lived-in.  Demi lune tables flanking the fireplace with oversize art above them?  Console table behind the sofa?  I need your sage wisdom, guys.




obsession: garden obelisks

We’re having a seriously dry summer here in New England.  Our grass was basically hay when we got back from the lake.  And of course our back yard and side yards are still rolling on 60+ years of overgrowth, so naturally I’m dreaming of a tamed, verdant garden.

One thing that’s caught my eye lately on Pinterest are garden obelisks.  The fancy Martha Stewart-y name for them is the French, tuteur.  Garden obelisks are a great mix of form and function.  They add visual interest and height but they’re also functional, providing a climbing surface for plants.

I like the idea using them to bring year-round color to the garden.

12227e668dbaf01cd0693370e14bedb0country gardener






Be still my heart… with an artichoke on top.

1cb94443a245a9e2c79dcce1492aedcbthe graceful gardener

These weathered wood ones are cool too.


These aren’t a pyramid shape but the idea is the same and they’re gorgeous.



This one is simple and lovely.


I need to start scoping a spot in our yard for one of these beauties.  And it looks like you could DIY it easily too.

Do any of you have vertical elements in your garden?



Lake George 2016

We’re back!!!  From two bananas weeks at Lake George.  Chocka-block full of cousins, fun, swimming, SUP-ing, cliff jumping, junk food and drinking rose during the day instead of water.


For the last three years, a gaggle of my cousins have rented THIS awesome house in the historic Glenburnie enclave on Blair’s Bay in northern Lake George.  It’s a beautiful spot at the end of the road on a rocky peninsula in the shadow of Anthony’s Nose.  You can see the house and boathouse in the background in the picture below.

Me.  SUP master.  I think it’s those softball and figure skating thighs that help.


Our raft.



Oligotrophic glacial lake where you can see 30 feet down?  Yes please.


This year we rented stand up paddle boards and it was the best idea everrrrrr.


P-I-M-P…  Leah Brown.  Smoke show.



This hottie.  M. Lang.


About to eat a gut-busting load of fried food at Wind Chill Factory in Ti.


Chilling at Adirondack Camp, across Blair’s Bay, where some of our crew were campers and counselors years ago.  It’s the bomb!  Like Parent Trap on crack.  June thinks she’s going there next year.  Yeah, just need to hit that Mega Millions first.




The gorgeous gene pool of BK Porterfield




And to my cousins whose pics I stole off our ADK 2016 photo share, you probably sat on me and farted when we were kids… we’re even.

Till next year.  Sigh.



screen porch progress

I swear, we’re actually trying to finish this project before winter.  Nothing like working full-time and wrangling two kids to set your pace to “glacial.”

Okay so what’s been happening…..

We covered the ceiling with beadboard panels from Lowe’s.  They come in 4′ x 8′ sheets which we had to cut and puzzle together to fit the ceiling.  Thankfully the gaps don’t show too much with the dark paint because it is impossible to get these sheets to line up seamlessly.  Perfection this is not.


While we batted around the idea of tearing down the ceiling so the room would be vaulted the full height of the roof, we’re not sure what’s up there and are kinda scared to find out.


So a 7.5 foot ceiling it is!  Which doesn’t leave much room for a light fixture, especially a lantern style like I had my heart set on.

This was my top choice but then I realized the 15.5″ height was probably too big for the space.  We don’t want people whacking their head or having something block the view.  But isn’t she pretty?


lamps plus


I ended up getting this one instead – it was slightly smaller and half the price to boot.  Still, all Charleston-y and elegant though.



And I’m sticking with my original plan to paint the porch black!  This idea has been stuck in my brain for a few years after seeing Susan Hable Smith’s porch in Southern Living.  I think she used Farrow and Ball’s Studio Green.


Then this room in Elle Decor sealed the deal.


After a very short color search – this was the only one I tested – we went with BM Black Forest Green in semi-gloss.  The little bit of sheen makes a huge difference, bouncing just enough light around the space and making the green-black really deep and rich.


Then we got suckered into scraping the door of about 12 layers of paint.  The heat gun was the only thing that worked.  Even the most Acme death goo paint stripper couldn’t put a dent in it.


This is the best we could do.  But I put oil based primer on it yesterday evening….and it’s lookin’ pretty good!

I’ve also been scouring Craigslist for freaking ages looking for vintage rattan/bamboo porch chairs.  Like digging foxholes through that mother.  Not surprising but nothing met my long list of criteria – matching pair, open weave but not too open, natural color but not too orange, thick cushions, within 50 miles away, not too spenny, etc.  Then these chairs from World Market went on bananas sale and it seemed like a good time to crawl out of my CL burrow.

chair porch

The wood will warm up the dark paint on the porch and the cushions are super thick with bleach-able covers.  All the vintage chairs I saw needed new cushions or new cushion covers ($$$).

These chairs are in need of a black and white striped pillow, for sure.  Maybe this one from Pottery Barn?


Or something with thicker stripes?



Our porch sofa is also from World Market – the Himara which we got a few years ago (they don’t sell this model anymore).  This is how we knew the cushions on the chairs would rock.  They’re the same ones.

sofa porch

Once I figure out the furniture layout, I can start thinking about side tables, coffee tables, garden stools, etc.  The porch isn’t big (12′ x 12′) and the doors/pathways chop things up.


If we cram everything to the left, it gets pretty tight.  The drawing below isn’t to scale but there’s essentially no wiggle room.


I think we need to spread things out more.  This feels more balanced.

spread out

 I’m also trying to convince my husband that we can DIY a concrete top coffee table similar to this.


But do a concrete overlay treatment on the top instead of a super heavy brick-o-concrete.  I wish I had video of the look Nick gave me about this idea #somebodyneedsanap.  And I need a fairy godmother with a arsenal of power tools.

Next up: paint ALL THOSE MULLIONS.  I would say I need wine but I’m not sure boozing and fine motor tasks are a good mix.

Thoughts?  Criticism?  The name of a good wood worker in my area?  What do you guys think?



screen porch {paint it black}

It’s been 3 months since we tore out the rotting trim and screens from our screen porch in the backyard and we’re finally making steps toward rebuilding it.  I know, we’re really blazing through this project.


That flood light is positively prison-like.  My plan is to center the junction box in the pediment and replace the light with a gooseneck barn light.



You can (barely) see our new sugar maple here on the left.  Grow little buddy!  Grow!

Clearly I’ve been experimenting with color.


One big question is…..what color to paint the trim, ceiling and doors/wall/sidelights?  I want the whole porch to be one color, something bold and dark to envelope the space and make it cozy.

porch1jersey ice cream co. via design sponge

porch2muskoka living

I’m going with Black Forest Green by Benjamin Moore.  It’s a beautiful green-black.


Painting those mullions may cause me to lose my marbles but it’ll be worth it.


And yes, the outside of the screen porch trim will be painted the same dark color as the inside.  Eventually the exterior of our house will be white without shutters and I thought it would be cool to make the screen porch stand out.  Like this gorgeousness.  Oh, a conservatory?  Don’t mind if I do.


In typical jumping the gun fashion, I already planted blue hydrangeas along the front of the porch.

IMG_5934We planted the same sized Endless Summer hydrangea at our old house – in similar light conditions – and they got big within a couple years.  So…fingers crossed.

There won’t be much dough left over for decor or a crazy screen porch reveal.  Except in my mind.  But here’s a rough mock up of my plan for the vibe.

porch mock up

Black rattan chairs (Craigslist gods, please smile on me), zinc topped coffee table, neutral outdoor rug, ceiling lantern, garden stools, striped and patterned pillows, plants, etc.

Am I crazy to paint the whole thing black?  What do you guys think?  My husband did the”whatever you think is best, dear” thing.  But I’ve trained him well when it comes to design stuff.  I need an unbiased opinion.



client living room transformation

I recently worked with a client in Dartmouth, MA on transforming their family room and couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.  Wanna take a peak?  Please excuse my terrible BEFORE photos.  It was nighttime and my clients were in the process of building the barn wood TV nook on the right, hence the chaos.


Pink slipcover sectional, dark blinds, slightly coastal decor.


Their family room is open to the kitchen and it’s the room they spend the most time in.  They wanted a space that was polished but laid-back and durable enough to handle kids and pets.

Here is the AFTER…



We lowered and simplified the fireplace mantel with a single, stained piece of wood.




The styling is still in progress but it’s a big change, right?  A huge thank you to my client for giving me a chance and trusting me.  And apologies to her husband who really, really wanted a huge leather sectional and cow hide ottoman….and did not get them.  😉

If you’re interested in transforming a space in your house, email me at