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

changes in the foyer

Slow decorating is alive and well around here.  Like a sloth’s pace.  In part because I don’t want to impulsively make decisions I’ll probably regret and because furnishing a house is redunk expensive.  Our old house was half the size of the new one so we didn’t have a lot of furniture.  Living here a year, its taken time to figure out what we need, based on functionality and layout.  But I recently pulled the trigger on a few items that are flexible enough to move from room to room, so the thrifty worry-wart grandma that lives inside me isn’t twitching too much.

Our foyer is loaded with doors and doorways – it has eight, which is insane – so there are only two spots where furniture can go.

To the right of the front door.



And under the stairs.  Yeah, I still haven’t finished painting the stairwell.  Let’s not talk about it.



Right now the black console table is under the stairs, which is opposite the foyer closet.  So many doorways here.  The one on the left is the foyer closet.  The one on the right is the powder room.


Even with our glorious mudroom, we still use the crap out of this closet for extra coats, shoes, 400 hooded sweatshirts and paper towels, among other things.


The hideous snake skin wallpaper is…baffling.  If it was up to me, I’d be ORC-ing the snot of the closet right now but our tore-up screen porch (*cough* husband) won’t let me.  That little hobbit door is one entrance to our laundry chute.  Why they stopped putting these in houses, I’ll never know.  The other entrance is upstairs in the linen closet.

Given its proximity to the closet, the spot under the stairs is probably better served by a bench.  As it is, I just plop down at the bottom of the stairs to put my Converse on.  Uncombed hair, Chuck Taylors, an affinity for mozzarella sticks….apparently I’m still 12 years old.


IMG_5775bench  // garden stool  //   rug

Much better.  It needs a second pillow though.  Possibly this one from Spark Modern.





For the spot next to the door, I’ve been debating a lucite console table for a loooong time but was gun shy about being too trendy (I’m not cool, we know this) and besides the one from CB2 costs a lot of clams.  I can’t spend $400 on something that’s basically invisible.  But this spot needed light and airy so when I spotted this version on sale from Urban Outfitters, I jumped.



And it does not disappoint – it’s super heavy, sturdy and the quality is top notch.  This is not Lee Press-On Nails acrylic.  This is Lee Radziwill’s lucite vanity with a Cavalier King Charles spaniel chilling at her feet.  Or some other classy shit.


Now I’m hunting for a 3×5 antique rug for in front of it, to soften things a bit.


A big piece of art would be great here but I like the mirror – it brightens up this dark nook and acts like a window, reflecting the view of the office and screen porch.  The mirror is vintage faux bamboo from a junk store in Peabody, Mass that I painted Aurora Borealis BM.



I’m loving the change, both functionally and form-wise.  It still needs warmth and personality though, to look lived in and worn in.  Loved.  Slowly we’re getting there.  It’s starting to feel like home.  Not the 1950’s nightmare, a strangers home, we moved into 16 months ago.

What do you guys think?  Good changes?



re-painting the foyer with my tears

Alternative title – Why I’m an idiot.  So….I thought I was almost done painting the foyer.  It only took me 6 months.  At the time I picked Benjamin Moore’s Edgecomb Gray and had it color matched in Olympic One paint from Lowes.  But I only bought one gallon because in our old house we never needed more than one gallon per room and I figured I could always get more if I needed and it would perfectly match what I’d already slapped up there.  Right?  WRONG!  So so wrong.

Yesterday I grabbed another gallon of the foyer color at Lowes so I could finally finish painting.  My cousins are staying with us this weekend and I wanted to close the book on this project before they arrive.  Pat myself on the back.  Reward myself with 3 lobster rolls.  So I start finishing up with the allegedly-same paint and….what the french toast is this?!?!?  Different colors.  Only slightly but it’s noticeable.


And I like the new color better (#2) than the old one (#1).  Argggg.  So I head back to Lowes and grab two more gallons of the paint, mixed the three gallons together and will now begin painting the entire thing.  Again.  I officially give zero f**ks what color the foyer is.  Lesson learned – always buy more paint than you need.  Don’t be like me, kids.




striped vs seagrass stair runner

I’m this close to ripping up our heinous stair runner.  It makes my eyes bleed.  But before we can put down something of the non-gross variety, there’s a boatload of work ahead of me.  I need to sand and refinish the stair treads, paint the banister and spindles, and deal with the trim which still has remnant carpet fibers stuck to it.  Clearly I’m chomping at the bit to do all this.


That’s not nearly as much fun as fantasizing about stair runners.  I’ve narrowed it down to either black-bound seagrass (possibly THIS one) or stripes.

Rachel’s staircase has been my main inspiration for the whole shebang.  I love the neutral texture of the seagrass and the way the black binding looks against the white stair risers.  Our banister is almost identical to this one and will definitely be painted black.

southern exposuresouthern exposure

Here Carol uses the same Safavieh runner I’m thinking of using.  I love the subtle chevron pattern.


But maybe a striped runner?  To match the almost-exclusively striped wardrobe my kids and I rock.  (It’s a sickness).  Our foyer rug is an antique from ecarpet gallery which I love, and while I can’t promise another persian won’t hop in our car someday, I’m pretty sure the foyer rug will never be striped….so it’s okay for the stair runner to be.


But of course all the striped runners I love are super expensive wool or jute.  And spending $600-plus on this item isn’t gonna happen.

But aren’t they lovely?

tom sheerer house beautifulhouse beautiful


This staircase from an ancient issue of Domino has always been a favorite.

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We could go the more affordable striped route with something from Dash and Albert.  This blue awning is pretty.

charming doodlecharming doodle

Or this black and white striped one…

Staris-23-After-Straight-Up1young house love

But in the end I’m leaning towards the seagrass for durability, texture and the pop of black on the border.  I worry that the white parts of a striped runner will get show dirt too much and plus stripes will favor pretty heavily in the other fabrics I have planned for the house (i.e. pillows, ottoman).  What do you guys think?  Stick with the classic seagrass?



removing oodles of wallpaper

Hi guys!  I hope you had a relaxing, cozy, food-and-wine-filled holiday!  I’m sooo ready for 2015.  We capped off 2014 with the move to the new house, which needs every update you can think of, and after going through the usual mourning/fear/paralysis phase, I’ve emerged on the other side, ready to face things head-on.  This house is now my bitch.

We spent a lot of time over the Christmas holiday removing wallpaper, in part because my aunt (who’s visiting) is an insane worker bee.

foyerRead More


foyer reveal

The foyer is finally done!  February was long and brutal for many reasons but it didn’t help that our entry was in disarray due to the knob-and-tube removal and work on the stencil.  Now it’s functioning again….and looking pretty snazzy too.  Since this blog is super new, I thought I’d share this project with the Best of the Nest link party.  And speaking of foyer makeoevers, THIS transformation by Simple Details is killer!

Here is the BEFORE:

foyer before

And the AFTER:

IMG_3289Read More


DIY tree stencil

tree stencil header

As I mentioned in the last post about the foyer, I bought this Lena Corwin book a few years ago because of the cool tree stencil.  At the time, I was pregnant and envisioned doing the stencil in June’s room, which didn’t end up happening.  (We did do this however).  So when we contemplated a foyer makeover after ripping out the old knob-and-tube, this stencil came to mind.

I’ve never stenciled before but love the depth and character that pretty wallpaper or a repeating pattern stencil brings to a space.  However all the wallpaper I love is out of our budget, and good stencils are not cheap either, so we decided to try the tree.  I already had the book and only had to buy the Mylar, paint, spray adhesive and stencil brush….how hard could it be?  Bold words for an impatient girl, especially one descended from a long line of expertly-foul-mouthed Chicago plumbers.  Read More


the foyer is getting a facelift

We recently had the last bits of knob-and-tube wiring removed from our 123 year old house.  Besides being unsafe and not up to code, we needed it gone in order to qualitfy for the insulation rebate with the MassSave program.  Yep….our old plaster walls are not insulated.  I mean, maybe there’s corncobs or seaweed stuffed in there, but it ain’t helping.

Thankfully the old wiring that remained was only in the interior walls and ceilings, so it wasn’t a whole house rip-out.  But still…it made a huge mess and the plaster in the foyer took the biggest hit.  While patching up the damage, it dawned on us how scuffed and chipped the foyer, stairwell and upstairs hallway were.  They take a lot of abuse.  Laundry baskets, flung sippy cups, flung toys, bags, boots, etc.  We need a refresh.

The old color is Benjamin Moore’s Bronzed Beige which looks different in different light.

foyer before 2

A wallpaper-like stencil was the first thing that came to mind.  I love the layered backdrop that wallpaper or a stencil give to a space, especially in a foyer or powder room because you can go bold on a small scale.  I bought Lena Corwin’s Printing by Hand years ago based on my love of this tree stencil and figured I’d give it a whirl in our new foyer.


A full post on that whole process to come…

Here’s a look at the Before Foyer.   Clearly, it’s not awful but we wanted to update the yellow (Benjamin Moore Bronzed Beige) and the Rast needed to be re-done because the polycrylic finish had yellowed!  Not so crystal clear, after all.

foyer before

Here’s the mood board for the new foyer.  Whadya think?


Mood board sources:

Rug: Dash and Albert indoor/outdoor rug in Kitchen Sink

Wall color: BM Manchester Tan

Stencil color: BM Brandon Beige

Rast paint color: Rustoleum Night Tide

Knobs: cheap-o ones spray painted Rustoleum Metallic Gold

Audubon print: Anne’s Accumulations on Etsy