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!


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?


painted plywood subfloor

Oh…if only there was oak hiding under the green monster.


It’s no secret that my biggest regret about the new house is that it doesn’t have hardwood floors.  The original builders dropped bank on pink and yellow porcelain everywhere – plus 8 massage jets in the pink coffin of a shower – but hardwood floors…..nah.  Why put down something timeless when you can blanket the joint in emerald carpet?  So it’s on us to fix the situation.  Our plan is to install hardwood floors and finish them on-site ourselves in the dining room, living room and kitchen in the next few years, as we renovate.


In meantime, I couldn’t take the old and nasty green carpet in the dining room any longer.  So a couple weeks ago we finally got it out of there.  The subfloor was in good condition so I convinced my husband we could paint it as a temporary solution.  Despite the confidence I shined him on with, this idea had my skeptical too.  Would it be durable?  Would it chip easily?

But we forged ahead and the folks at Benjamin Moore led us to this porch and floor paint.  Here goes nothin’….


Oh yeah, muuuuch better.  The color is Aegean Olive BM.  It’s warm and earthy and mimics the look of hardwood.  A thousand times better than the green carpet.  It makes me smile every time I see it.


The can said it took 7-10 days for a full cure, so we decided to believe it and keep the room off-limits for 10 days.  However when the new seagrass rug arrived at Day 8, I caved and put it in there.  So far no problems with chipping.



Now the put the furniture back….

Next up we’re pulling out the planter box thing in the bay window and making it a proper window seat.  For the cover I’m thinking neutral.  A box edge cushion in linen-like performance fabric with navy piping.

I can’t believe we lived with that green carpet for a year.  Shudder.  I mean, sneeze.  So far the finish has been very easy on the feet too.  No splinters from the plywood.  And no, we didn’t sand it first.  I think the primer and 3 coats of porch paint helped with that.

So what do you think….are we crazy?  Do any of you have painted floors?



dining room update

There might be a rip in the fabric of the space-time continuum because I did not plan on taking a month hiatus from our dining room makeover.  I blame the soul sucking darkness of winter.  The days just run together and all of a sudden you look up and there’s still peeling paint above your kid’s dinner plates.

But we’re back!  Here’s a reminder of what the room looked like the day we moved in.


If you’re new here, you may not be privy to the year-long struggle about whether to keep the mural or not.  Yes, it’s pretty cool.  Yes, it’s all probably lead paint.  And yes, the color is vomit pink.  It had to go.

In addition, the previous owner put latex paint over the original pink oil paint ceiling so of course it was a chipping mess.  My plan from the beginning was to put tongue and groove planks on the ceiling.  Make it all cozy.  And save us a lot of scraping, mudding and sanding.


We picked up 15 packs of these thin planks from Lowe’s.  It was our first time using this product and overall it was a cinch.  The crown molding has square edges so we were able to put the boards up without removing it.  We randomly staggered the seams, using 3-4 cuts per row and there was almost no waste or wonky boards.


Now….I swear.  I took pictures of this whole process but somehow they aren’t on my camera.  Gremlins?  I don’t know.  So an iPhone photo is all I’ve got.

Thank you all for your input on my potentially-cuckoo notion to paint the ceiling cantaloupe.  I still love the idea and totally think it can work….

jeffrey bilhuberjeffrey bilhuber

But in the end I decided to bring the cantaloupe in through a different element in the room.  One I can more easily swap out if I get tired of it.  Playing it safe is definitely not my 2016 battle cry but I also change my mind a lot and re-painting a ceiling is a PITA.  So the ceiling color winner is…..Lookout Point BM.


It is the prettiest pale blue.  Not too gray or bright.  I love it and someday when I can afford grasscloth in the dining room, this color will still work.


I used a microfiber roller which got into the nooks really well so I didn’t need to use a brush.  We also added picture frame molding below the chair rail.


 This is all a vast improvement BUT……my eyes are still blinded by that heinous, disgusting, 40 year old green carpet.  Yesterday it met its demise.  Not suprising, we unearthed mountains of dust and dirt after pulling up the carpet and padding.  So nasty.


Unfortunately our house was built when carpet was king so it has ZERO hardwood floor.  Our plan is to slowly remedy this situation as we renovate, starting in the dining room first.   But that’s not till spring so I figured we could paint the subfloor as a temporary fix.


 First we coated the subfloor in oil-based primer.  We used the allegedly odorless kind and added a packet of the smell-away stuff or whatever it’s called…..and still it was horribly stinky, even with windows open.  On a freezing cold day.  I’m officially sick of winter home renovations.


For the color, I wanted something earthy to balance the sweetness and light of the white walls and blue ceiling.  The guys at Benjamin Moore mixed up a gallon of this porch paint for me in Aegean Olive BM.



It looks a little muddy in this photo but so far on the floor (I cut in last night), it’s looking rich and gorgeous.  First full coat goes on tonight.  I’ll do a full reveal on the floor once it’s done.

Have any of you ever painted a subfloor?  My husband was mighty skeptical.  But hey, it’s a temporary solution and anything is better than that disgusting carpet.





DIY stencil curtains

Happy 2016!  I hope you all had a peaceful and relaxing holiday.  We had a straight up great Christmas.  Food, friends, family, kicking it by the fire, hiking, movies, sushi.  It was awesome.  But it wasn’t all sipping Pinotage and listening to Bing Crosby.  (Seriously run, do not walk, and get THIS wine.  Eno in Providence has it).  We also tackled some major projects at the house, thanks to my workaholic aunt who was visiting.

Try to pretend you don’t still see paint-stained green carpet…I literally used it as a drop cloth.


Namely we tackled the dining room.  You can read more about our saga from mural to navy to peeling paint to white HERE.

One project I also had on my list – even when I was planning to go navy in the dining room – was to DIY curtains with a pattern similar to this by Lauren Liess.

lauren liess textiles antique beige POPLET2 (1)

I’ve only done one other stenciling project (in our old foyer) and it made me want to gouge my eyes out, so I was nervous to stencil white fabric.  Me and precision aren’t exactly sympatico.

But $120 a yard isn’t falling in my lap anytime soon, so I grabbed a pair of Merete curtains from Ikea and the Jaipur paisley stencil from Cutting Edge Stencils (size small).

The Merete has grommets at the top, which I didn’t want, so I sewed 4″ wide buckram from Joann’s to the bottom of the curtain to firm that up and make it the top.  The grommets got cut off when I hemmed the curtain.

For the paint, I custom mixed a warm gray color with acrylic craft paint from Michaels, along with fabric medium, which I’m not entirely sure you need but better safe than sorry.


And no I didn’t iron these before stenciling.  Because I’m lazy.

I used a small foam roller to apply the paint after lightly taping the stencil, on only 2 of its sides, to the curtain with green painters tape.  I swiped the foam roller on a paper towel before starting each stencil to make sure there wasn’t excess paint on it.


I didn’t measure for placement, just eye balled an off-set pattern.  (This is the worst tutorial ever, right?).  In hindsight I should have made the paisley closer together and done more of them but oh well.

Still, it was way easier and turned out far better than I expected.


I snagged this gorgeous and sturdy brass curtain rod off Craiglist for $10.  Rich people throw the craziest shit away.  It’s a fixed length and was perfect for this window #highfivingmyself


Ideally there’d be banging euro pinch pleats at the top but for now the drapery pins are just randomly stuck in there.

I need to hang Aunt Mary on the wall and of course rip up the awful carpet.  That dust storm will be fun.


As for the ceiling color, thank you all for weighing in on the cantaloupe!  I really appreciate your input and hemmed and hawed over a decision, but I finally made one and feel really happy with it.  The color won’t go up until we cover the chipped mess ceiling in tongue and groove panels.  Hopefully I’ll have more to show you next week.  And maybe the sun will come out so I can take some decent pics.

What do you guys think about the curtains?  Do they look cheap?  Squint, then tell me what you think.




changes in the dining room

Okay, before you all burn me at the stake, let me explain.  I wrestled hard with what to do about the dining room mural, an otherwise cool design bathed in the most horrid pink imaginable.  We lived with it for 382 days.  Ultimately the color – that nuclear waste Pepto – was a deal breaker.  Yes, I could have painstakingly covered the offending pink by hand, like a reverse mural, but…..ain’t nobody got time for that!


As some of you know from Instagram, I threw caution to the wind recently and started painting over the mural.  I took almost no pictures of this in-between stage, thanks to the holidays.  The shoddy iPhone pic on IG is all I’ve got.

However a major technical error soon followed – the mural started rejecting the paint.  When we first moved in, I tested the dining room walls with an isopropyl alcohol-soaked cotton ball and it told me the pink was….latex.  So I just got regular paint with built-in primer.  Unfortunately that cotton ball was a rotten liar because the new paint started peeling off if I looked at it sideways.  So the day after Christmas we covered the walls and wainscoting with oil-based Kilz primer, a horribly smelly but magical substance that rights all wrongs.  I’m sure key brain cells fell to the wayside from the fumes but oh well.  At least one crisis was averted!

Then a funny thing happened.  I liked the white.  We’ve only ever seen this room dark pink or dark navy and it’s north-facing so it doesn’t get insane sunlight, plus 8′ ceilings and small-ish 1950’s windows.  The white made things so much brighter.  Shocker, I know.  So I changed my plans and painted the walls BM Swiss Coffee (the trim and wainscot are BM White Dove).


Obviously the green carpet needs to go.  My allergies are girding their loins for that one.  And the room is still a disaster.  BUT.  I have zero regrets about getting rid of the mural.  Ze-ro!  The design gods may have a lightening bolt with my name on it but I’ll catch that shit with my teeth.  As Cartman has taught us…..I do what I want!

With white securely on the walls (no peeling), my next thought was….should I paint the ceiling cantaloupe?  Naturally.  See also: oil paint fumes.


And I’m also attempting some Lauren Liess-esque paisley curtains, courtesy of Cutting Edge Stencils.

So…..cataloupe walls have been catching my eye lately.

880829fd4a8e2b689eb5904cd3dca0eachristina murphy….I think

Orange has long been one of my favorite colors.  My first skateboard was orange.  I had a big orange coat in the 90’s.

celeriecelerie kemble

This could work on the ceiling, right?  I’m going for it.  Afterall it’s only paint.