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

new art in the dining room

After Christmas I painted the dining room lavender and planned to load the walls up with crazy/cool/unique art.  This is easier said than done.  Needless to say, it’s been a slow process.  There were only three pieces of art on the wall until recently when I finally got an awesome fourth one!  Breakneck speed, I know.  The reason for the feet-dragging is partly because I’m cheap but also didn’t want to pull the trigger on art I wasn’t super in love with or that was mass produced.  (*whispering*….Am I the only who thinks Minted is 90% boring and spenny?  If I see another picture of a pineapple….shhhh, they can probably hear me)

Now that that act of blogger treason is out of the way…..

I knew the space needed a few black and white pieces to anchor things and balance the sweetness of the lavender walls.  Then I would add a bunch of other quirky/colorful pieces in between.

I started with this Matthew Korbel-Bowers print called Burnt Mountain.  I love the shape and graphic punch.  Yes, it’s technically mass-produced….let’s not talk about it.

This little ocean art over the light switch is from Salvation Army in Wareham.  I think it’s a painted photograph actually.  No clue though, it was $2.

Next I found a photograph of an ancient Italian ruin in the attic at an estate sale.

It cost 25 cents.  The photo says the picture was taken in 1891 but I’m not sure when this print itself was actually made.  I had it framed at Michaels with a coupon because the print was odd-sized.

Then nothing happened on the art hunt for a shamefully long time.  I finally decided to start with one section of wall, just like knocking over the first domino, and make a decision.  One really good decision and it would all tumble from there.  I hope.

My search started on Etsy for black and white photos of Chicago – I grew up just outside the city and lived in Logan Square with my husband before we went to grad school.  I was looking for shots of the El or some of the city’s amazing architecture.  Then found this print from Saltwater and Vanilla on Etsy and literally gasped.

My grandparents, who I lived with growing up, went to the Palmer House Hotel on their honeymoon!  I still have their bill from 1947 and a postcard they saved from the hotel.

Charge for the radio.  75 cents.

Digging these out of my bin of old photos, I found this adorableness of my Grandma.  A pin with a faux mug shot.

The Palmer print is in an Ikea Ribba frame for now but I want to get it professionally framed down the line.

Shockingly, taking these photos at 6:30 am in a north-facing room wasn’t a good idea.  But….I love the print so much!  Kinda retro/Deco.  The lights.  There’s just something about it.

Which is obviously the beautiful thing about art.  What you hang on your walls should call your name and make you smile.  That visceral reaction when you walk past it.

Hopefully it won’t take me another 6 months to get more art in this room.  And daymmmmn we need to have a bench cushion made for the window seat.

Okay I’m out….Happy Friday everyone!


one room challenge – foyer closet {REVEAL}

This may be anti-climatic – after all it’s just a closet – but here we go….it’s One Room Challenge reveal day!

This is my third ORC and I still love it.  The pressure, the camaraderie, the inspiration from everyone’s projects.  For a bush league blogger like me, the community aspect of ORC is the best part.  The “point” of my blog is to write, share my perspective (smart ass though it may be) and connect with people.  ORC is a great way to do that.  So thank you, Linda!

Alright, let’s jump into the closet.  Recall this is the puke fest we started with.

Take your time pinning.  I’ll wait.

What the cripes were these people thinking with this wallpaper?  At what point in looking at samples are you like, oh yeah this is the one, my stomach hurts just looking at it.

We planked right over that madness.

Turns out, photographing a windowless closet that resides in a windowless foyer is very difficult.  It was beyond my skill set with the manual setting on my Canon.  Most of these shots are from my iPhone and I’ve come to grips with that.

That’s about all there is to see in this tiny space.  A huge thank you to my husband for all his hard work on the shiplap!  And a big thanks to you all for your support and kind words during this process.  Be sure to check out all the other amazing transformations over at Calling It Home.  The featured participants and the guests rocked it this round.

Paint color – Benjamin Moore Palace Green
Floor basket – World Market
Tote – LL Bean
Wall hooks – Lowe’s
Laundry chute cabinet latch – Martha Stewart for Home Depot
Bowl and tray – Marshalls
Rug – ecarpetgallery on Ebay





one room challenge – foyer closet {week 5}

I’m going to try to be more civilized this week.  While my husband was reading our last ORC post, I heard him guffaw in the other room and then make a surprisingly-accurate water bong sound effect and pretend to blow smoke.  Pretty sure he was mocking my sense of humor and the je ne sais Joliet, Illinois quality of my posts.  To which I reply –  sir, I pay the bills on this blog and will write what I please, get your own creative outlet (cue Destiny’s Child song Independent Woman).  Ps – I don’t smoke weed or own a water bong…..anymore.

Linda, my apologies for putting the words “water bong” and your logo together.

Okay, the final details of the closet….

I combed the internet hard for brass coat hooks.  But it’s difficult to get an accurate read on the finish from a computer screen and all the options I liked were kinda pricey.  Then I popped into Lowe’s to get microfiber rollers and found these affordable and sturdy beauties.

The cabinet latch for the laundry chute is from Martha Stewart Living for Home Depot, which obviously isn’t a perfect match for the brass hooks from Lowe’s but I’m cool with that.  You can barely tell.

We had to update the closet rod too – the old one was galvanized pipe covered in duct tape.  I would expect nothing less from Puking Snake Closet.  A big AHA moment was realizing I should rotate the orientation of the rod.

OMG, I cannot get the lighting right on these photos!!!  Panic.  Why did I choose this “room”?  Breath.  Breath.  Where’s my water bong?

Ignore the color problems and let’s focus on the coat rod.  Instead of having a wall-o-coats smack you in the face when you open the door, I tucked it over to the side.  Much better.  The rod is poplar wood from Lowe’s stained Minwax Special Walnut.

Since we have 12 square feet of space in here, I figured we needed a storage basket on the floor.  I  snagged the medium size basket in this series from World Market.  It has a touch of black in the weave which I love.

We also needed better storage on the shelf to corral items.  These grasscloth wrapped storage bins were on clearance at Home Goods – they’re sturdy, have a lid and the color and texture are great.

And finally….art.
To play up the room-like quality of the closet and make me smile when tossing socks down the chute.  One of my favorite vendors at Acushnet River Antiques is Carolann Burke.  (In her defense and due to the earlier water bong discussion, I should mention we’re not related).  These vintage British soldier watercolors are from her booth.

There are plenty of little bits to pull together and style before the reveal next week.  Fingers crossed I can get the lighting right for the reveal photos.  It’s finally dawning on me that this closet was a really bad choice for a photo-based event.  But I can’t turn back now!


one room challenge – foyer closet {week 4}

It’s Week 4 of the One Room Challenge!  From here on out, it’s all about the fun stuff – the DETAILS!

I know it’s just a closet but the choice of rug for this space has stressed me out.  In my mind, the rug should cover as much of the footprint as possible, to make it seem more like an actual room.

Lucky for me, Stark Carpet was very interested in partnering on this high-profile and dynamic project.  They reached out to me and will be sending us an antelope rug, custom-cut for our foyer closet #soblessed #itsahardknocklifebutsomebodysgottadoit.

Wait, sorry, that’s the paint fumes talking again.  Seriously though….how stunning would this antelope rug be with the green walls?  Meow.  Or whatever antelopes say.  (Consult your local terrestrial mammalogist for more information but antelopes are an ungulate so….moo?)

Okay, back to reality – I initially bought this vintage rug from Carpetsmall on Etsy to go in the closet.

In person, it was more orange than it looked online (not what I was going for) and plus I really like it in front of the console table, so I had to start over.

Not shocking to anyone – it is flipping hard to find a 3’x4’-ish vintage oushak rug in just the right color, pattern, patina and price.  Like, impossible.  I briefly considered a custom-cut bound seagrass rug from Pottery Barn but….snooze….and besides those jamokes charge out the yang for everything.  I refuse to give them money.

Given these issues and my completely one-sided relationship with Stark, I had to switch gears.  This wool kilim from Ecarpet Gallery was super affordable and I liked the colors – some green to tie in with the walls and red for warmth.  It’s not a deliciously faded oushak, obviously, but it’ll do.  It can always be placed down the line, if I find something stellar.

Watching the shiplap come to life this week has been fun though.

Green gorgeousness.  Come to mama.

And a real life, evening time shot.  Second coat just went on.  Moana soundtrack on constant repeat.  My kids can’t stop, won’t stop.

Hardware and art (yes, art in a closet) go in next week.  Fingers crossed for the sunniest week EVER to photograph.  A windowless closets is not a camera’s friend.  I think I need a clear incandescent bulb in here, not a frosted LED.  Maybe that will help things….it still seems so dim.

(From a sexy ORC/Pinterest-worthy image perspective, what was I thinking choosing this room?  No natural light?  Oh right….Bubonic Plague snakeskin…now I remember)

We’re closing in on the finish line!  Be sure to pop over to Calling It Home and check up on the ORC featured and guest participants.  There are over 200 guest participants this round!


my dream house is on the market!

Guys.  I’m having a coronary.  One of my New Bedford dream houses is on the market!

I’ve never seen inside the house, only stalked it from the outside.  We used to live around the corner.  The listing doesn’t have many pictures, which is odd.  Either the kitchen and bathrooms have major issues or the realtor has her head on backwards.  9 pictures?  Really?  But what I do see…I love!  I’d buy this baby furnished, thank you very much.

I can’t.  With this wallpaper.  Sooo good.

Look at this goodness.  Very Gray Gardens before cat pee rotted the floor boards.  And yeah, I see those Staffordshire dogs on that fabulous table.

I’m not even playing….we either need to buy this house or I have to sneak into the open house or make the estate sale my BITCH.  Seriously, I’ll camp out at 2am and train Iron Man style for it.

At this price, the house won’t be on the market long.  Probably not even long enough to need an open house.


one room challenge – foyer closet {week 3}

Nothing like the gentle hum of the air nailer to rattle your fillings out.

Welcome to Week 3 of the One Room Challenge!  This is the time to seriously crank on work…and thanks to my lovely contractor husband, we did.

The closet is full of corners and the area around the laundry chute was particularly tricky but my husband did an amazing job on the faux shiplap.  Though you should have seen his face when I kindly requested the corners be mitered super tight, caulked and look seamless #sorrybabe.

Last week, we narrowed our paint color options.  When it comes to choosing wall color, I’m like a hyper Pomeranian – very easily distracted by the next chew toy (i.e. color) – but I tried to ratchet down my level of crazy this time.

After testing a totally reasonably number of samples (7), I landed on Palace Green from Benjamin Moore.  It has a skosh of blue and yellow in it.

I didn’t want any white primer to show between the nickel-sized gaps in the boards (if that was even possible), so I impulsively started painting a stripe every 6″….with a 5″ roller….soon realizing that meant essentially putting a coat of paint under planks.  Oh well, that’s why I bought a gallon.  And it gave me a chance to really test out the color.  Heart eyes!  It’s not sage.  Not emerald green.  Not hunter green.  It’s perfect.

The crown molding is next on our to-do list.

Then installing and re-orientating the new closet rod and adding coat hooks.

Lowe’s.  $3.50 a pop.  Mic drop.

The paint was giving me animal print vibes so I put on my leopard flats for this shot.  Give *in* to the crazy….let it wash over you….

What do you guys think of the color?  My husband says it looks like an avocado (stone-face emoji).


one room challenge – foyer closet {week 2}

It’s so relaxing to do an ORC that doesn’t involve installing new floor joists.  (I’m looking at you, mudroom).

This is a cake walk in comparison, which probably means I punked out on the difficulty this round.  Or my general euphoria could be from all the primer fumes.  Oil based primer in a windowless closet = Lalapolooza 1994 level of getting high.  And not in a good way.

As you may recall – that is, if you haven’t been huffing Zissner like me – this is the situation in our 60’s snakeskin foyer closet.

Popping off scallop trim like it’s our job.

The old light fixture is in the garbage and we’re painting the ceiling and priming everything.

The wallpaper is in excellent shape, though ugly as sin, so I decided to leave it up and cover it with horizontal planks.  Now…before you roll your eyes and fall asleep in your chowder, I promise this won’t be a boring Fixer Upper white box.

Remember these luxurious bastards?

BM Forest Hills Green  //  BM Palace Green  //  BM Alligator Alley

Yep, these are totally different greens than my initial go at it.  Picking the right color for this windowless closet is hard!  I’m on round two of samples.

Before I decide on a color though, the wallpaper and trim had to be primed and the light fixture installed so the color decision wouldn’t be related at ALL to the old closet vibe.

My apologies for the crappy nighttime photos but….it’s Week 2.  Good lord, why does our trim look lime green?

The primer doesn’t have to be perfect because we’re just planking over it.  But I plan to paint the nickel-sized gaps between the boards so we just primed everything.

I’m not buying another round of samples though….the final color is somewhere on that wall.  It’s decision time.  I promise they look much better in person and when photographed during the day.

Our shiplap boards have been bought, cut in 6″ wide planks and primed, so we’re firing up the air nailer this weekend.  After that, we get down to the fun stuff – rug, hardware, art, and storage bins.

Hop over to Calling it Home and see how knee-deep in dust everybody else is.  Week 2 is always ugly.





one room challenge – foyer closet {week 1}

It’s ORC time!!! (Liz Lemon’s Oprah voice)

And despite residual stress-twitching from our mudroom renovation, we’re jumping back in.  Thank you, Linda, at Calling It Home for the kick in pants that is this mayhem!  Here’s a peek at my two other ORC rooms.

Mudroom, fall 2015 – this room saves our bacon on the daily.


Vintage boy’s room, spring 2015 – still super love this room, even with the scars on my feet from Legos.


This time we’re taking on a more manageable project – the foyer closet in our front hall.  No, it’s not a super sexy project….but it is super ugly.  According to the ORC code, I have 6 weeks to transform this disaster.  Get ready to be embarrassed for us.


So poorly lit, it can barely be photographed.

The ceiling is brown.

I believe the wallpaper is from the limited edition 1964 Snake with the Stomach Flu collection.  Very rare.  Ooooh…and matching (I use that word liberally) sponge-painted trim?

Please, humans – don’t do this to your walls.


The amount of scallop trim in this house is mind-boggling.

But it’s not all bad.  Here’s the upside.

  • It’s spacious (~12 square feet)
  • The wraparound shelf
  • The shoe nook
  • The laundry chute! (It has two entrances – one in the upstairs hallway and one here.  Word.)

*Here’s a cool article about the history of laundry chutes*

Obviously we use this space for coats and shoes but it’s also a storage closet.  Although right now it’s a disorganized dumping ground for crap and needs to be wa-aaay more functional.  And bear less resemblance to fungus.

Think… English library vibe.  I want to take this sucker from bad green to good green.

farrow and ball

The tricky part will be finding the right shade of green for this windowless nook.  I’m thinking a mid-tone mix of leafy green and sage-but-not-in-a-1990’s-kind-of-way.

country living

James F. Carter via Habitually Chic

Maybe army green instead?

kate marker interiors

Here’s the plan…..

Dreamy green everything
Vintage style light fixture
Antique rug
Woven baskets
Brass accents

Stay tuned for total annihilation of the funky snakeskin and be sure to check out what my other ORC peeps are cooking up, both the featured participants and the guests.  There’s never a shortage of talent and inspiration in this challenge!


renovation update: the study

I’m a terrible blogger this time of year.  The lack of sunlight means it’s impossible to take good pictures around the house and projects start to languish because I’m ready for bed at 8:30pm, which is stupid early.  When I should be painting the upstairs foyer and hallway, instead I’ll snuggle the kids down in our bed and be like “Who wants to fall asleep next to Mommy while I read a magazine?”  There are always takers and it’s the snuggliest, squishy-cheeked, delicious kid breath bomb.  Yes, I still need to smell my kids faces every day, like a mother seal.

January through May also feels like a wasteland, design-wise.  Maybe that’s because of holiday-based decor on Pinterest and in magazines.  I swear that Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and Easter egg wreaths actually burn their eyes.

Despite my general lack of motivation this time of year and loathing of four-leaf clover themed door decor, we’ve managed to make tons of renovation progress in our “study”…as I’m calling it now.

First, we popped off the scallop trim that was hiding a track system for curtains.

This made a hella mess and we had to go into mudding/sanding mode to smooth it out.  Then we added crown molding around the whole room.  The woodwork is BM White Dove and the doors are BM Mopboard Black.

The zig zag chair is getting a white slipcover next month, if I can fine a fabric gauge thick enough to cover it.

The ceiling fan came down too.  A ridiculous square hole was revealed (what?) so we covered it up with a ceiling medallion from Lowe’s.

The biggest elephant in the room was obviously the built-in.  While the exact design of these shelves wouldn’t have been my first choice, we definitely want some kind of built-in here.  So instead of tearing it out and building something else that looked very similar but with minor tweaks, we decided to keep it and paint them.  The scallop trim came off too and we added a flat fascia board and crown molding.

Initially I wanted to paint the built-in green but after testing a few samples, I realized that a dark blue made the green in the toile wallpaper pop out more (BM Polo Blue).  The blue also butch-es up what could be grandma sweet wallpaper.

Lots of styling to do, lots of books to snag from yard sales but at least it isn’t a pea green monstrosity anymore.

This thing is screaming to have brass picture lights on the fascia up top…but we aren’t dealing with any electrical stuff right now.

I found the vintage faux bamboo (Thomasville?) ottoman on Craigslist for $25.  It needs a tufted chartreuse velvet cushion.  For sure.

Clearly this unit was designed specifically for a ginormous TV.  Notice the gaping TV-shaped hole in the middle there?

But until the day this is a TV room again (we can see that happening down the line)…..that lonely hole needs to be filled.  To break up the big cavern, I’m thinking of leaning a piece of modern art behind the bar tray and adding vintage glasses on those weird half shelves.  Plus the bar tray itself needs to be tricked out.  You know, actual booze and what-not.  Oh and have no fear, I’m steadily murdering that maidenhair fern every day, no matter how much water I give it or sweet-nothings I whisper.

The bar tray is from Container Store.  A frigging steal for the size.


The color of the built-ins, doors and floors are cool tones (black and blue) so I want to warm things up with other elements, like brass, orange-spined books, old issues of Nat Geo, an antique persian throw rug, etc.

The silver peanut I found at Acushnet River Antiques (my go-to spots) is my new favorite and one of the reasons I love thrifting/antiquing/estate sales.  You never know what amazing stuff you’ll give a new home to.  Should this peanut have gone to the landfill and then Pottery Barn mass-produces a replica?  Hell no.

The other side of the study is our/my office

desk // storage cube

Lots to do with the end of the room – hang art, put up a cork board for inspiration tear-outs, etc.

I added mid-century style legs from Lowe’s to the Ikea storage cube.  Stained them in Minwax Special Walnut first.

This room was one of the (many) things that sold me on the house when we first looked at it.  I’m happy that we finally got rid of all the nasty green woodwork.  And all it really took was primer and paint.

What do you think about the color of the built-in?  Was blue a good choice?


a totally gorgeous teal kitchen

Okay, technically it’s a restaurant/bar but look at this beauty.  This is Dame in Portland, Oregon.

It’s probably my affinity for historical homes but I love dark, rich colors in a room.  The other day I was leafing through Food and Wine magazine (my sister-in-law gets us magazine subscriptions for Christmas and it’s awesome) and a feature about the restaurant/bar Dame stopped me in my tracks.

Dark teal paneling, brass, marble, touches of black, quirky art.  They’ve put a modern twist on it but it’s also classic and Downton Abbey-like.

Dahlias for life!

Normally when I hear “teal kitchen” I think of early 2000’s turquoise sickly-sweet awfulness.  It’s country.  And you look country in it.  (Name that movie).  But this take on teal I can get behind.

Brass mesh cabinet inserts too.  Oh yes.


It reminds me of this deVOL kitchen

I love the sense of history and coziness you get from dark colors.  Here’s another great example of dark but lively.  I don’t know where this joint is – if it’s a restaurant or hotel or what – but the dining room is seriously gorgeous.  Old-school and masculine but the acid green curtains and striped dhurrie rug keep it from being too staid.


When we renovate our 1950’s kitchen, I’ll probably stick with white cabinets but the dark side is calling to me.