You might remember me going on and on about chalk boards here. When my daughter's preschool teacher (she does a Montessori program) told me that writing on vertical surfaces was great practice for budding writers I was sold. I talked to my husband about all my different chalkboard ideas; we could paint entire walls, maybe a closet, etc. He was more hesitant. Then one day I was opening the basement door for the 100th time that day and had an epiphany. I should use chalkboard paint on the door panels!
So I painted the panels with chalkboard paint and the kids were SO happy! They left little notes for guests, messages for their Dad, my one year old practiced scribbling, I mean drawing. I was pretty happy. But I knew it needed more.
I wanted to frame out the panels, but I also really wanted to call more attention to the vintage doorknob; easily the prettiest thing on the door. I decided on metallic paint for the space between the panel and the door. We also really needed new hardware. As a lot of you probably already know, these old doors and frames rarely ever close tight. A few owners back they put in a hook and eye to keep the door closed. This didn't stop my children as one of them pulled so hard on the door the hook completely popped out. I really wanted to fix this safety concern once and for all. I spackled the old holes and sanded and painted them, already a major improvement. Here I'm using a blowdry to speed up the drying process on the spackle.
I bought a brass window sash lock that I wanted to attach on the vertical door frame. But the new brass just stood out too much from the 70 year old brass. Luckily I have a crazy hoard of spray paint and added a light dusting of bronze to the hardware. In order to get the heads of the screws I poked them through a paper bag before I sprayed them.
Major improvement right? I spent less than $7.00 on this project and got it all done during a handful of kid afternoon naps. Considering how many times a day I use this door the cost per use is going to be approximately $.0000001 :).
I am helping a friend pick finishes for her new home and I wanted to do an over view of what is available. There are a lot of options out there, but as you look through the list, the choices narrow fairly quickly according to needs and budget.
This is a workhorse option. Very easy to clean, resistant to scratching, can handle a hot pot, and mostly stain resistant. I've heard that over time the surface becomes a bit dull, that it can lose it's shine. And of course it has a very limited aesthetic application;meaning it would be difficult to put stainless steel counter tops in anything but an industrial or modern kitchen.
Granite used to be the counter top option, and for good reason. It's beautiful, and can be found in a wide variety of colorways. It's very easy to clean, difficult to scratch, and has a high sheen. I have been told it is the perfect choice for a pastry chef! Since it is a natural product there are natural variations in the veining and the colors are usually darker than say marble or a light engineered stone.
Ceramic tile can be inexpensive, durable, and comes in a wide range of colors and sheens. When we bought our house it came with granite counter tops, in large tiles. I know that the previous owners picked this option because it cost less than buying one large piece of granite and having it cut to size. I would say that the biggest disadvantage here are the small grout lines that are more difficult to clean than a solid piece would be, but over all it's been workable.
We lived in a rental for a couple of years that had butcher block countertops. They looked extremely warm and held up pretty well. These countertops do take more maintenance as they need to be sealed often, and scratches need to be oiled. The rental we were in had butcher block around the sink, this area did not hold up well. This specific area darkened and warped and stood out from the rest of the surface.
This surface is found in historic and period homes. It is dark gray and often has a matching sink. It has found place in the modern kitchen as well as it is smooth and really lovely. It does require some maintenance and it can crack over time if not properly cared for. This is also an alternative to concrete countertops, but appears more chalky and is decidedly softer.
We see the surface a lot in shelter magazine and TV shows. It is beautiful and expensive. It is also porous, so it can stain. It is not as hard as granite, so scratching is also a concern. The honed finish on marble can fade if an acidic material, such as vinegar, is spilled.
Laminate has come along way. There are times when it is difficult to tell from a distance that something is laminate and not a natural stone. It's main advantage is price, it is the least expensive option out there. Laminate is not as scratch resistant, durable, or heat resistant as stone. In fact I would say it is not heat resistant at all as it will bubble terribly if a hot pan were to rest on it. I have never seen it applied as a solid surface.
This category contains Sile Stone, and Cambria Quartz. These surfaces are great because they don't require the annual maintenance of stone, but provide similar levels of stain protecting, heat resistance, and scratch resistance. The colorways on this surface are endless.
These surfaces are solid throughout, meaning that they can be sanded down to fix scratches. The most popular solid surface that I know of is Corian. They are not heat resistant, but somewhat stain resistant. Not as expensive as stone.
Concrete countertops have gained in popularity over the past ten years especially. This is because they can provide a seamless surface, can be poured in house to fit your space exactly, and can be tinted a variety of colors. If sealed properly it is resistant to stain, and of course it can handle heat!
Do you have any experience with these different surfaces? We'd love to hear your opinion!
A general rule throughout my life was to stay away from drama, especially the nonsense you can easily find in those glorious middle school and high school years of life. But, I do have to admit that I've been drawn into the drama as of late... but a healthy, beautiful form, that is a black wall.
After searching and searching, I can't find my inspiration picture for this post. On Pinterest I saw this amazing circular entryway painted in a high gloss black paint. When I saw it I thought, "Wow. That's amazing!" But then I thought there was no way I'd ever do something like that in my home, mainly because its intimidating, and because I'm typically drawn to more lightly colored spaces. BUT, obviously that room has stayed with me these past few weeks and every time I see something cool that's black, I think back to that lost picture (why didn't I just pin it?!?).
So what is it about black? A long time ago we did a post called Color Psychology 101 where we talked about how different colors make us feel. How does black make you feel? Although there are negative feelings every color can give us, as black can feel extra dreary (like reminding us of death for example), it also has some cool connotations as well, like: sophisticated, mysterious, glamourous, formal, dignity, etc.. The main word for black I've already used plenty of times (and yes, its in the title) is drama.
But even if my inspiration picture is lost, I have found some other gems that are also inspiring to me (from most dramatic to least dramatic).
I love brass, and I love how these amazing bookshelves (and the art) pop off the wall and the solid black really highlights them.
I can't help but try to imagine this room with a different color accent wall and drapes. I gotta say I love the accent wall, especially with that quilt on the end of the bed and how it highlights that gorgeous headboard and wall trim.
The black wall makes this space.
This is a great example of adding a little dose of drama with black paint without making it seem overwhelming or too dark.
Painting nooks black is such a great idea. What a great way to highlight the beautiful things you want to display and really make them stand out. If you do decide to do this, I'd make sure you had other black things in the room so the nooks didn't feel totally random and out of place.
So what do you think about black walls? There are endless images of black walls that are beautiful, so if I haven't sold you, search it online and see what amazing rooms you can find.
Would you paint a room black? A wall? How about a nook? Or nothing? I'd love to hear your thoughts on using black paint in your home.
We certainly have been talking about rugs a lot this week! I know they've been on my mind a lot lately. I have been ignoring/fixating on a problem in our living room for over a month. Every time I'd enter the room I would cringe and think, "If only I were more like my Mom". Because my Mom made sure this never happened in my childhood home. Red kool-aid was outlawed, banished to the yard; along with play-doh and silly putty.
I had tried all my usual tricks on this beast of a stain and as a last ditch effort I scheduled an appointment with a green carpet cleaner. They came and cleaned my rug, and it looked pretty good, except for the red kool-aid stain that remained. I had all but resigned myself to the fact that our nicest accessory was marred. Well, my friend Mindy told me not to give up hope. She sent me a link to an article about how to remove kool-aid from white carpet, and this morning I woke up determined to give it a go. In typical Andrea fashion it had to be done right then. So I just used what I had on hand.
I started with the least conspicuous spot, and got more aggressive as my confidence in the process grew! I sprayed the spot with the windex and immediately put a single layer of the towel on top and set the iron on top of that. I waited three minutes and lifted up the iron to see that pink from the stain had transferred to the towel. Not only had pink transferred, but so had some brown dye from the rug. I immediately pulled up the towel and looked at the rug. At this point I judged that I couldn't tell that any of the original colors of the rug had lightened, so I kept going. In the picture below you can see pink, blue, and brown colors having transferred to the rug. Pink=kool-aid; Blue=windex; Brown=original rug color.
Tips to consider:
Beautiful as ever!
**If you'd like to submit an area of your home that you've made work we'd love to highlight your space. Just click on the button below **
Rugs are an amazing thing. It's a single item that can totally transform a space and help define specific areas of your home. A great rug can unify a place while adding comfort, beauty, texture and balance. Its a great way to add a bold pattern or color while helping to move your eyes around the room. Ahh, I really do love a good rug.
Andrea did a great post called Rug Basics. If you haven't read it yet, you definitely should. Just like a rug can anchor and unify a space, a rug can also make a room look awkward and mismatched if its not sized properly to your space. There are various "rug rules" that sometimes contradict themselves depending on who you talk to, but a general good rule is that (at least) the front legs of your furniture should sit on the rug (some say the entire sofa, or piece of furniture should be on the rug). If a rug is too small it can look like its floating in the middle of your space which doesn't help to make the room feel anchored. But really, just read Andrea's post (linked to above) for great general rules and favorite online sources for rugs.
I've had my eye on a Madeline Weinrib rug for a couple years now (similar pattern to the top middle rug shown below). I know I wont ever buy it because I can't justify the price tag. Luckily for my conscience and my wallet, there are some great inexpensive options for us out there. I've pulled some of my favorite rugs from Rugs USA that are all under the $300 price mark (some are under $200!), based on a 5x8 size rug size.
These options are pretty, right? I really love them all and could have easily kept adding more and more to my group. Most of the options found below have different color options as well, so keep that in mind if you see a pattern you like but don't love the color, click the close up images below to see other color options!
And here they are close up -
Damask Trellis Green Rug
Homespun Inspire Navy Rug
Santa Ana Verden Ikat Smoke Rug
Tuscan Woven Suzani
Safavieh Thom Filicia
Radiante Hearts Beige Rug
Beach Boardwalk Stripe
Moroccan Trellis Rug
Santa Ana Bold Paisleys
My usual go-to online retailers for rugs are Rugs USA and Overstock. Sometimes these carry the same rugs, so check both sites to see if there are any price differences!
As a side note, having two kids myself, it's important to consider cleaning methods. I've had too many things on my rugs/carpet that weren't supposed to be there... like, my 2 year old's adventures in taking off his diapers to see what happens... you know where I'm going with this. We have a no food and shoes rule in the living room (which is room you walk straight into from the front door) but of course things always happen. I bought Natures Miracle Stain and Odor Remover a while back from Amazon, and have been amazed at what it's gotten out of my rug (for example, a berry smoothie on the white part of my rug) and am seriously happy with that purchase. I used Scotch Guard on my couch with great results, and am thinking that could be another way to protect your rug from stains. Have any of you tried it? I'd love to hear your opinions.
Where are your favorite places, whether online or in stores, to find beautiful rugs? And do you have any helpful rug tips to share?
I wanted to share an image today that I think is fresh, balanced, and tailored; all things I love in good design. This image is of a house in Megan's neck of the woods, specifically Venice, CA. Anything goes in Venice, and this house is bold in all the right ways.
There are so many things to love about this room. I love the balance between the very linear sectional and the curved wings of the blue velvet chair. I love the campaign style sideboard, and in emerald green no less! There is just enough black to really ground the room and keep the eye from resting too much on the black box of a TV. I like the contrast between the bright, glossy, pink backed storage piece and the lacquered carpentry. I appreciate the clean white wall space that helps keep the room feeling fresh and organized. I like the shape and combination of the ottoman and pouf, and don't forget the gold edged side tables that carry just the right amount of visual weight. I think the wood detail along the ceiling as well as the door add a much needed organic element that keeps the room from feeling too modern. I would say what makes the room though is that rug! The rug is not only the color palette for the whole room, but adds so much movement and interest. Well done to the designers from Turquoise who created this beautiful home.
I have to throw a picture of the master bedroom up here as well, because it is SO fantastic.
Can you believe how skillfully these patterns are layered? Wallpaper, drapery, headboard, euro shams, blanket, not to mention the art. I am really glad they went with a subtle chevron, I feel like that will give the headboard a much longer life.
What do you think? Would you move right in? I think Megan should!
Thanks to House of Turquoise for introducing me to this great home!
Jordan submitted her dining area (shown below) so she could get a 2nd opinion. Her main complaint is that the space feels too dark all the time. Also, she would like to update the fabric in the room, which means her valance, curtains, and chair covers. Overall she wants this very used area of her home to feel lighter and brighter.
Her dining area is connected to her living room. The colors in that space are sage green (couches, which look much darker in the photo than they really are, and the rug), a rich deep beige (two side chairs, one you can see, pops in the rug and the drapes), with little pops of a deep beautiful red (in her rug and pillows). Since these areas are open to each other it's important to make both places feel cohesive. Jordan did a great job of making the two spaces feel united, but since her current dining area isn't working for her, we will focus more on the other colors from the living room to accentuate.
I've planned out two options below for Jordan's dining area. Although the fabrics below can be interchangeable, I have them laid out as the largest sample (on the left side) as the valance, as those are the most noticeable fabric from other areas of the home. Next, the top left would be for the drapes, and the bottom right would be for the chair covers. At the very bottom is a paint possibility for the walls. And I would recommend re-painting the cute highchair a pretty sage green regardless of which option is picked.
So lets get to the fabric combinations! Take the poll at the end to cast your vote and give Jordan your 2nd opinion.
I decided to focus on greens in this group. I think these choices would help make the room feel airy, would lend a classic yet updated feel, and makes the space feel relaxing. I decided to keep the wall color in the beige family for the wall (just a much lighter option than whats currently in the room) to bring in a little of the warmth of the living room.
I decided to use more bold fabric options in this group. The patterns give the space some fun energy, while the wall color will help keep things light and airy, just like Jordan would like. Jordan has a cute blue bookcase that borders the corner of the living room and dining area (you can barely see it in the photographs above) so I like that the valance fabric carries that color further into the space.
So dear readers, will you give Jordan your opinion and vote for which fabric group you would recommend?
**If you'd like to submit a question to our 2nd Opinion segment (it can be as big as a room or as small as a lamp... whatever question you have, we'll help you out!) click the button below. We'd love to hear from you.**
Oh how I LOVE blue. I am always looking for ways to add more of this color to my home. I love that it can be clean, bright, calm, watery, clear, energizing, my list could go on and on. I think a big part of my love affair is centered around water, and how water has always been my happy place. Anything that reminds me of the beach, the water and the sky, has to be a great thing! I am always trying to add more of this lovely color to my house.
I've collected a few inspirational images that have been bouncing around in my head. As you'll be able to tell, I'm kind of on a cobalt kick, but there is always room for more shades and tones and everything in between.
And this is the image that has been keeping me up at night. I need this color combo in my house! The bright blue with the shiny black, be still my heart!
When I was in high school I had this outfit that I couldn't have loved more. Black pants that were fitted through the thigh but generous in the lower leg area (I have always had muscular calves) with a black and cobalt blue horizontal stripped turtleneck. I felt like a million bucks in this combo. Every time I wore it I thought, "This outfit was made for me!". The fit was the best I'd ever worn, it was tailored, it was more fancy than my other clothes (read flannel shirts - it was the late 90s), and the color felt powerful and fun. When I see this room I think back to that outfit and the way it made me feel. This color combo will always be a favorite!
Do you have any associations with color like that? I know for my husband who grew up with a mother who loves red, he feels very comfortable and eased by a school house red.
Towards the end of every day when its clean up time, I can't help but take notice of what toys I have in my home. There are also some toys I definitely appreciate more than others, because in my small apartment things are always on display, and I love it when a toy is not only played with, but looks pretty.
I might as well come out and say I'm obsessed with wooden toys. They are beautiful, and lets be honest, kids can be super rough on things and I like how wood can hold up to those beatings. When I was in Prague about a year ago, I knew I wanted to bring my boys back a present. We found a cute local store full of beautiful unpainted wooden toys...I was in heaven. I picked a train for my older boy and a simple dinosaur on wheels for my younger son, but I would have picked out many more things if I had room in my suitcase!
Sometimes its hard to take the plunge and buy wooden toys because they are more expensive than their plastic counterparts. But when I think about it, I've had to throw away countless cheap toys over the years that have broke, and not one of those have been one of the wooden ones, so I think its worth the investment.
I thought I'd do a round up of some cute wooden toys for today's post, which was actually inspired by me cleaning up these trucks (which I bought at Ross for half the price they are in stores!).
Keep on Trucking from Land of Nod (my boys got two of these a couple years ago for Christmas. They are incredibly cute).
Vinci Pentagon Small Creative Puzzle from the Wooden Wagon. I think I would like playing with this just as much as kids would.
Stacking Rainbow from Fine Wooden Toys.
Bowling Set from Little Choux
Classic Embossed Alphabet Blocks from Amazon. You can never go wrong with a great looking set of blocks. Or there is this option for different shaped wood blocks.
Train Puzzle from Etsy.
Well, I could probably sit here at the computer and link to way too many more cute wooden toys. I thought I'd stick with the colored variety today (probably in part to help limit how many toys I'd link to!), but I still love the look of natural wood... there is something so organically beautiful about them... but maybe I'll save those for another post : ).
I would love to hear what wooden toys you and your kids like!
We finally thought of a name for our new segment, and we love it! Design Therapy is all about people taking control of their spaces; it's therapy for your house and therapy for your well-being too! This concept has been in the works since we started 2nd and Strand. Megan and I both are drawn to design because we know that good design really improves people's day to day; that a space can uplift and inspire AND function well. So we are thrilled to have a space to directly address this therapeutic element of design.
I was reading my friend Emily's blog, something, when I was touched by a sentence she used. "i desperately needed something in my house to change. with no money and no chance of a move, i decided painting some old furniture was the best way for me to go.". And tada! My dear friend felt a lot more in control of her life, she knows that she can improve her situation; she gave herself some Design Therapy. Want to see what she did?
This piece was an early purchase in their marriage and it had been with them for awhile; but it needed a face lift and Emily gave her one.
Emily likes the improvement so much that it has inspired a few more changes in her space. Next she's going to tackle a computer desk and a filing cabinet. She's also picked out a few accessories to go with her newly painted piece. Her Design Therapy worked, and all for under $30. For anyone who has paid for any type of therapy, you know that's a steal :) Congrats Em! It looks great. Thanks for sharing your process with us!
**If you'd like to submit an area of your home that you've made work we'd love to highlight your space. Just click on the button below **