Master Bedroom Revisited

It’s been a while since my last progress post… and I’m still working on compiling some info to write the second half of my last post about Sears kit homes. In the meantime, I think two rooms are pretty close to “done”… or at least Phase 1 is nearly complete. Since the last time I wrote about the master bedroom, I have basically completed the outline that I wrote in this initial post.

As a reminder, here’s where it stood at the last update:


We moved our furniture in and I painted the room a cool, oceany blue (Behr #HDC-AC-23 Provence Blue). I installed Ikea’s Ranarp sconces and hung Popchartlab’s “No Sleep Til Breuckelen” print.


I was still waiting for some nice curtains to go on sale and was hoping to DIY the closet drawer pulls to look a little more special without spending thousands replacing all of them (large pulls in three bedrooms would have cost about $5k… nope.)


Since then……

I got those West Elm curtains on sale and hung them on these nifty arrow-end curtain rods from Overstock. I might need to add some backing to keep extra light out, but for now they’re fine. I love the added pattern in this relatively neutral room. M thinks they’re too visually busy.

giftable@home > bedroom revisited

I also spray painted the existing pulls in the closet. It would cost a fortune to actually replace them, so even though the shape is still kind of meh to me, at least now they look enameled and a little more substantial and vintage than the original Ikea brushed stainless look.

giftable@home > bedroom revisited

I used a coat of black spray primer and 3ish coats of black glossy spray. I picked a heavy duty one so that I won’t have to worry about the finish rubbing off (I think it was this Rust-Oleum Professional High Performance Enamel Spray). I love the black-on-white look.

giftable@home > bedroom revisited

Inside the closet pulls are more of the same. I still hate the knobs so they’ll get replaced as soon as I find something I love. Otherwise, faux enameled black it is. The birch interior of the closet bugs me but not enough to break out the stain/paint. At least not right now.

giftable@home > bedroom revisited

I still really really want to add a white and black flokati rug but I can’t get myself to pay that kind of money. Especially in the summer. Especially with a puppy in the house. But one day… maybe. We also still need a full length mirror. Working on it…

giftable@home > bedroom revisited

And in case you’re wondering, M does actually own clothing. He just uses the closet in the guest bedroom.

That’s all for now! Some other progress and more history on Sears homes coming soon!

❤ v


Crazy lamp lady

I’ve always had a fascination with light fixtures that I can’t explain. I love them. Probably more than I love paint or even most furniture. To me, there is nothing more satisfying than changing the way light passes through a room. When we moved in, each room had uninspiring, bland light fixtures, which we started switching out in the last post. But instead of shopping online for the office fixture, this one kind of found me. We had just closed on the house about a week earlier and were browsing one of my favorite salvage stores in Exeter for pulls, knobs, faucets, or anything else that could fit with the vintage-yet-streamlined style of the brand new (to us) place. We popped in next door to Cam’s, a kind of hit-or-miss dusty costume/secondhand/mishmash shop where I’ve found some good deals on vintage art in the past. One of the things I remembered them for was tying old light fixtures up on the ceiling beams, and since I knew we’d need a bunch of them, I wanted to check out my options.


This fixture was right above the door when we walked in. It was covered in dust and contained a junky plastic candelabra insert. But it was also in perfect condition, solid as a rock, and probably 30lbs. I didn’t know how to re-wire anything, but for this guy I could figure it out. We haggled a price, and then haggled a cash discount (which is funny because I think they’re cash only, but whatever) and the entire purchase came out to $200. Not cheap, but for such a unique fixture, I’ll take it.

From the first time I saw it, I wanted it for the office. I assume that it originally hung in an entryway, but ours isn’t large or grand enough for a hanging pendant like this. M wasn’t so convinced, but I dug up some photos of similar pendants in offices, and he let me be a little insane and go with it. Both of the following images are by Emily Henderson, of course. This whole project screams “what would EH do?”

I actually can’t find any info about this particular pendant online anywhere, so if you have any ideas about where it came from or even when it was made, please let me know.IMG_9107

So I got it home, wiped it down, and totally took it apart. The whole thing needed to be rewired no matter what, so I just took the candelabra piece out and studied how the whole thing pieced together.




Look how shiny!IMG_9123 copy

I drew out a diagram, measured, browsed youtube for too many hours, and ordered parts.


For anyone attempting something similar, I got the canopy set and keyless socket from Antique Lamp Supply, the cloth wire from Snake Head Vintage, and the edison bulb and wire nuts from Amazon. Everything else was salvaged from the original pieces.


And then I realized the cloth wire I ordered was too large to fit through the rest of the pieces, and re-ordered another gauge. So yeah, this part took a while.


I got it to about 90%– everything was connected and in order, but I didn’t really have a plan for how the bulb would hang inside the shade. My idea was a figure-8 knot, which would have looked cool, but I left it partially in pieces so that if I was totally wrong, the electrician who was hanging our other fixtures could have saved us from setting the house on fire.

photo-40 copy


This guy is amazing and actually used to rewire lamps as a kid, so he saw it and instantly knew exactly what he was doing. He didn’t like my figure-8 knot idea… apparently the screws on the socket itself aren’t supposed to hold *any* weight, not even the weight of the bulb. He said the socket had to be connected to the canopy by a threaded rod, which he happened to have in his van. So where you see “cut piece of theaded rod” and “gold cloth covered wire” above in the diagram, he has actually just put a new threaded rod (I thought I could use my dremel to salvage this piece from the candelabra insert, but it was too short– the threaded rod actually goes all the way up into the canopy on the other side of the glass and connects to the loop which holds the chain… super sturdy)



So he finished assembling it his (official) way and hung it for me, and dear god it looks AHMAZING.


Oooo, aah…


I don’t even really mind the look of the threaded rod, although the knot would have looked way cooler. I think I might wrap some washi tape around it just for a pop of color, but I’m not 100% on that yet.


This light turned out better than I imagined. This thing went from a total mess to a stunner, and was a quarter the price of anything similar I can find online. Sometimes instead of working I just sit here and stare at it. Maybe that explains the migraines.


What do you think?

❤ v

New Old Furniture

One of my initial conundrums was filling the awkward spot next to the bathtub with something other than an Expedit (photo of previous owner’s set-up)


I briefly looked around at hook/shelf combinations but really thought we needed closed storage space for things like toilet paper and extra tissues, candles, shampoo, etc. But I didn’t want to spend much since the humidity in the bathroom is usually bad news for furniture. I couldn’t believe when I had the opportunity to walk through an old hotel that had closed and buy a few pieces at bargain-basement prices from the new owner. One piece was actually a TV stand, but it had the right dimensions and closed shelving, so I offered $30 and was accepted!


One thing I didn’t check while measuring was the actual condition of the unit. The lighting was dark and I was rushing around from room to room. When I got it home, I left it in the garage for a few weeks before actually inspecting it.


The condition was pretty appalling. Most of the other pieces from this trek are in wonderful condition considering their age and heavy use, but this one did not have that luck. Aside from being absolutely disgustingly filthy (below is the pile of paper towels used from just trying to clean it with oil soap), the large cabinet had been painted and other parts had been badly patched and stapled back together.



The large cabinet had also been (badly) painted kelly green at some point in the distant past.


But it was still a solid wood piece of furniture, and still a good price. It just meant I had to paint it– something I kind of hate doing to (mostly) unpainted antiques, but there was no way to clean this up.


I sanded it down, removed all the hardware, and spray primed (I covered the cute wooden wheels in painters tape for this step). I used the leftover navy paint from the dining room built-in project (Behr Nocturne Blue #HDC-CL-28)– it took three good coats to be totally solid. I also painted the insides of the drawers…. figured the only way to get it really truly clean was to coat it in paint after drenching it in soap (and then adding liners for good measure).

So much better already!


For the pulls, I wanted to match the style of the furniture, and the bathroom, but also be a little bit playful. Since the piece is so dark, I opted for brass instead of oil rubbed bronze (or cut glass, which was another option and already exists in other parts of the house). I wanted it to be a little bit regency, a little bit MCM, and a little bit deco/colonial. The pulls are from Lee Valley and the knobs from Anthropologie. I love them both.


If you’re wondering about the original hardware, it was 100% crap. Two of the pieces broke as I was (gently) removing them. They are like aluminum foil thickness and also not very nice looking. Out you go! (intact ones will get donated to the ReStore in case someone else needs a replacement or something). The brass hinges and door catch are original, though… just cleaned with some sandpaper and steel wool.

And just for fun, here’s the final cost breakdown:

Vintage TV stand: $30
Two drawer pulls (Leather Hardware from Lee Valley): $21
Three knobs (Streamline Knob from Anthro): $18
Paint (Behr #HDC-CL-28 leftover from the Dining Room): $0
Total: $69.00

So there you have it! I love it, do you?

Full-room photos coming soon.

❤ v

Inspiration: Small Bathrooms

This post was originally posted in January 2011 on the giftable designs blog

Finding inspiration for a small bathroom seems much easier than for a small kitchen. Even large homes have guest bathrooms or powder rooms that share about the same square footage as the one-and-only bathroom in many smaller apartments. These rooms are great inspirations for small primary bathrooms because the homeowner is generally willing to take a risk– use a dark or bright color or a finish she would probably not use in her own (neutral) bathroom. Unfortunately, powder rooms are generally minimally functional, at best. The homeowner is assuming that she will very rarely use or even see this bathroom, so necessities like storage go out the window.

[Bold Striped Bathroom via Lonny Mag]

I’ve been hunting trying to find functional, beautiful small bathrooms (or ones that could be easily reinterpreted into small bathrooms) and here’s what I’ve found–

[Cottage Chic Bathroom via DecorPad]

A great small bathroom, like any other small room, finds a balance between form and function. When I see a room with a pedestal sink and a wall-mounted mirror, the first thing I think is “where do you keep your toothbrush?” I personally am a huge advocate for both medicine cabinets and over-toilet etageres. Most small bathrooms have empty space above the toilet for a simple piece of furniture– if you can find a wall-mounted one, it won’t even use any floor space at all. The above photo is a great example! Even though it’s not small, I absolutely love the colors and openness of the space, plus there’s a beautiful louvred etagere and tons of storage space in the bins under the sink.

[Blue and White Marble Bathroom via DecorPad]

I love the blue wall tiles and the clear glass shower enclosure– a great idea for making a small bathroom look larger!

[Calypso Blue Bathroom via Lonny via House of Turquoise]

Although lacking a vanity (or mirror of any kind), this color (Benjamin Moore Calypso Blue) is fantastic and such a great contrast to the bright white wainscoting. I also love the tiny corner vanity.

[Gold and Gray Bathroom, lost my source! Oops, please message me if you know who this belongs to!]

So, clearly, I had a lot of fun browsing, but I was still completely stuck about what my new bathroom was going to be. I love the idea of dark slate mosaic tiles (a la but didn’t think our tiny, window-less bathroom could stand up to such a dark color. The only thing I was sure on was this vanity from Restoration Hardware. The color and style are incredible, and I think it’s unexpected for a small bathroom to have anything but a white vanity or pedestal sink.

Then I found this bathroom. It is so playful and adorable, I wish I could just move right in.

[Whimsical Bathroom by Paper Dolls for Boys via Flickr]

I recognized the wallpaper immediately– Woods by Cole and Son, and then I saw that it also comes in a beautiful Taupe/neutral color that would look great with my dream vanity. I did this little mock-up/inspiration board… don’t make fun of the Photoshop skills. The bluish line is where the shower door will be. The current bathroom has a tub but we’re removing it and making it a huge spa shower instead. A bit risky, but I’m excited about it!

So that’s where I’m at. Looks like the reno will be starting in the next few weeks… eeek. Comments are appreciated, as always! Cheers!

Inspiration: Small Kitchens

This post was originally posted in January 2011 on the giftable designs blog

It seems that outside of NYC, most people don’t know what small kitchens are. Having lived here my whole life, I find large kitchens daunting– running back and forth from prep space to stove and needing to clean a very messy 100+ sq ft space after cooking a big meal don’t really appeal to me. I grew up with a galley kitchen that only one person could stand in at a time, but it was easy to reach from one counter, season and grab the Thanksgiving turkey, make a 180, and pop it in the oven without taking a step. It wasn’t until I visited my now-husband’s mother’s suburban home in Virginia that I saw a “normal” kitchen, complete with double-oven, full sized dishwasher, double bowl sink, and two fridges.

Although these kitchens look great in magazines, I think I’ll stick with my closet-sized NYC kitchens for now. Our new kitchen measures a whopping 6’x7′, or 42 square feet for those who are bad at math. We are going to attempt to remove a wall and bring the cabinets out about two feet, and then convert the entry coat closet into a pantry. We would still be working with a narrow space, but would have enough counter space to prepare a real meal, and enough of a footprint to use full-sized appliances. Win!

[Stephanie Stokes via House Beautiful]
[Brooklyn Kitchen via DIY with ADD]
[Blue and White Kitchen via DecorPad]
[Modern Kitchen via DecorPad]

There is something to be said about all-white small kitchens. White cabinets do make spaces look brighter and larger, which is why we installed them in the kitchen at our current apartment [here and here— please note these photos are super old]. They usually look clean and airy, too, but I think we’re looking to switch it up and do something a little more home-y and warm in this new space.

[Fagerland cabinets via IKEA]

When we began looking at kitchens for inspiration, I found a lot of white, a lot of birch, and a lot of walnut/mahogany. Mike talks about our current kitchen being too sterile with the white cabs, and I think birch looks kind of unfinished, no offense to those who love it. Dark woods are out because the space is so dark and small on its own, although they are beautiful for larger kitchens. I was about to give up and opt for white until I saw the antique wood Fagerland by IKEA. I was sold. They don’t look like the junk I would expect from IKEA (we’ve had a lot of particleboard disasters) and they are super inexpensive and customizable!

So our current plan is: IKEA Fagerland cabs, gray/black slate floor, brown/black granite countertop, sleek stainless appliances, bright backsplash (yellow? teal?), and lots of lights everywhere. I was hoping we’re not going too dark here, but hopefully it will look cozy and not creepy.

So I was busy browsing AT one day and saw Felicia and Douglas’ House Tour— it was like someone had created my dream kitchen. Of course, their kitchen is way bigger than ours, but it at least gave me the confidence that I am not insane for putting this combination together.

[Felicia & Douglas’ Kitchen via Apartment Therapy]

My idea is a little brighter, but it’s so close I couldn’t resist posting a pic– it’s inspiring to know other people are having the same ideas as you when it comes to home design. When I think of something and nobody else is doing it, it’s usually because it’s a bad idea (example: using open bookshelves as clothing storage. It looks messy no matter what and it’s impossible to find anything. No matter how inexpensive bookshelves are, next time we’re buying a dresser!)

So that’s as far as I’ve gotten in the kitchen. Ill leave you with a pretty photo I have since lost the source for. Not only is teal my go-to color right now, but all the different textures and shades make me so happy! Cheers!