Tag Archives: inspiration

Katie’s House: Plans for the Family Room

Since finishing the Chamber of Secrets I’ve been mulling over where in our house I next want to direct my attention.  There’s a long list of candidates, but I decided I’m in the mood for something that requires neither demolition nor construction, and that the time has finally come to eradicate the last vestige of yellow paint from our downstairs.

 beforeThe overcast day that I took these pictures did the paint color some real favors, but when the evening sun streams in it lights up like a radioactive egg yolk.  Upon looking at this photo, I realize that the motley collection of furniture in here might warrant an explanation.  One recent day, in a fit of pique (and with Cameron, who was in full-on purge mode after reading ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ egging me on), I up and sold the couch that was in this room on Craigslist.  Something in me snapped, and I couldn’t bear the thought of sinking into its lumpy microfiber depths even one more time.  The woebegone and empty bookshelf (the skeletal remains of books devoured?) is a casualty of the recently built shelves in the Chamber of Secrets.

carpet cornerThe state of this room might suggest that it is little used, but au contraire, we spend a ton of time in here.  It’s the best insulated room in the house and, come winter, it’s where we hunker down to hibernate with Netflix or books and mugs filled with steaming drinks.

pass through

This funny little window connects the family room to the kitchen, and has been the site of many puppet shows by our nieces.

Even though it’s been woefully mistreated, this room has a ton of potential.  I’m pretty sure that when I remove the stacks of homeless art and cull the unloved furniture it will be the familiar tale of a nerdy girl, maligned by all, who needs only to remove her glasses and shake out her hair to be suddenly beautiful and desirable.  I mean, painting over the yellow will probably be as dramatic a transformation as Ally Sheedy’s goth-to-lip gloss makeover at the end of the Breakfast Club, right?  That’s what I’m hoping anyway.

The domino-inspired design plan I put together for the Chamber of Secrets was invaluable for keeping me on track while we worked on it, and I’ve started putting together something similar for this room.

Step One: Find Inspiration

I love the use of botanicals and black in these next two rooms:

This next room is lighter and brighter and the vibe is definitely more relaxed. I love the mix of patterns and how welcoming it is.

The palette of this next room is not me (too neutral, too beige), but the plants and achromatic art are really speaking my language.

So maybe the colors and botanicals from the first two, the vibe of the second, and the art & plants from the third?

Step Two: Determine Your Style

The right words remain elusive, but what I came up with before is: Eclectic and collected, with a mix of eras.  I think it’s pretty close.

Step Three: Consider How You’ll Use the Room

This is our cozy room, so above all it needs to be comfortable.

Step Four: Assess Your Stuff

As comfortable as those side-by-side ma and pa armchairs are individually,  they’ve reduced movie-watching cuddling to holding hands across a great divide.  So I’m planning to buy a couch, but because the budget is tight I’m mainly searching Craigslist and thrift stores hoping to find a used one I like.

The [putative] Adrian Pearsall recliner will definitely stay in there, which means reupholstering it has moved to the top of the list.  In case you didn’t recognize it underneath its dowdy covering in the first photo, this is the one I’m talking about:

chair from sideThe rest of the furniture is on the chopping block, including the yellow-banded schoolhouse light fixture.

Step Five: Create a Design Scheme

I’m still sorting out the rest of the details (things are a little up in the air until I find a couch), though I do know that I’m going to paint this room in Miller Paint’s Crystal Ball. It works as well in our south-facing and light-flooded living room as it does in our windowless hallway, so I’m confident it will work here too. I like the idea of a unified paint palette throughout the house, and I think the slight hint of blue-grey will be a good complement for the unpainted fir trim around the windows.

Step Six: Make a Decorating Schedule (a to-do list)

To do

  • Paint walls, ceiling and trim (just the trim that’s already painted, not the fir)
  • Decide what furniture to keep and put everything else on Craigslist or donate it

To Make

  • Alter window blinds so they’re better at blocking light
  • Upholster chair (maybe do the tufted cushion myself and hire the rest of it out)

To Purchase

  • Find a couch.  Preferably a really amazing one with nice upholstery (I’m manifesting destiny with these positive thoughts :))

I’m really excited to get going on this project – have a terrific week!


Chamber of Secrets Part 3: Making a Design Plan

In case you missed it, you can get caught up on the tale of the Chamber of Secrets here:

Part One, Part Two

The Chamber of Secrets is the first room I’ve ever really designed from scratch.  Settling on a design for the built-ins and the closet, and seeing them transition from sketches on paper to tangible objects (the window seat is in!), has been such an interesting process.  It has also been a little overwhelming at times – my brain sometimes feels like a frenetic kaleidoscope of colors and measurements and fragmented to-do lists.  To try and resolve those slivered thoughts into a cohesive picture, and to make sure we continue forward progress, I decided to be more systematic in my approach.  At the beginning of Domino’s The Book of Decorating they break the decorating process down into nine steps, which I’ve found really useful.  I’ve used their steps as a template for tackling the Chamber of Secrets, although I’ve condensed my process to six steps.

Step One: Find Inspiration

I’ve shared some of these images with you before, but I’ve found it so helpful to have them all organized into one space.  I refer to it a lot to make sure my vision is staying focused.

Red House West||Chamber of Secrets: Making a Design PlanRed House West||Chamber of Secrets: Making a Design PlanSources, clockwise from top left: 1,2,3,4,5,6

Step Two: Determine Your Style

You might remember when Mera and I tried to put a name to our respective styles and struggled with it.  Now that my living room is coming together it is starting to feel like a good representation of my style. Here’s a picture of the living room yesterday, when we briefly emerged from the blanket of fog that’s been sitting heavy on the valley for days. Red House West||Chamber of Secrets: Making a Design PlanAnd here it is looking the other way: Red House West||Chamber of Secrets: Making a Design PlanThere are still things I’m tweaking, of course, but it’s a room I love spending time in.  Verbalizing my style remains difficult, but the words that come to mind looking at these photos are eclectic, collected, arty, mix of eras, layered.  In the Domino book they summarize it into neat little sentences, so mine might be: Eclectic and collected, with a mix of eras.  What do you think, did I get it right?

Step Three: Consider How You’ll Use the Room

This room will be an office, craft space and guest room.  Crafts are messy, so it’s important to have closed storage and floor space for spreading out.  Bookshelves are essential – most of our books are still in boxes from when we moved in more than two years ago!

Step Four: Assess Your Stuff

The Domino book suggests taking photographs of furniture to help decide whether to keep it, change it (paint or reupholstery), or give it away. Red House West||Chamber of Secrets: Making a Design Plan That desk is a hand-me-down from Cameron’s dad and it is a noble beast.  The drawers are two feet deep and the work surface is huge.  I have some fear that it will look too cabinet-y when it’s in place next to the built-ins, but we’re hoping to make it work.  You might remember the green Herman Miller office chair with its irrevocably stained, disgusting upholstery that I got for a steal on Craigslist.  I’ve actually started working on its transformation, which you’ll see when you scroll down!

Step Five: Create a Design Scheme Red House West||Chamber of Secrets: Making a Design PlanRed House West||Chamber of Secrets: Making a Design Plan The palette for this room is pretty neutral.  The walls will be Benjamin Moore’s Dove White in a flat finish, and all the cabinetry and trim will be Dove White in semi-gloss.  I’ll bring the blush, coral and indigo into the room with textiles (there will be a lot in here, between the daybed and the window seat), and the desk’s surface and the office chair are black.  Yep, the chair is black!  I still need to finish it so that’s all I’m going to share about it for now, but as you can see from the photo my second attempt at painted upholstery is going WAY better than the first time.  I’m planning to bring green into the room via plants and art.

Step Six: Make a Decorating Schedule (a to-do list)

We’re fortunate that we already have most of the furniture for this room.  There’s a trundle bed on Craigslist that Cameron and I are going to go see, and hopefully we’ll be able to check that off the list soon.  Currently, our list looks like this (the to-dos are in the order we’ll be tackling them):

To Do

  • Finish building shelves
  • Paint room and cabinetry
  • Install hanging rod in the closet
  • Install wood floors
  • Replace baseboards and trim around door

To Make

  • Cushion for window seat
  • Pillows for daybed and window seat
  • Curtain for window
  • Pin board or peg board for over desk

To Purchase

  • Trundle bed
  • Ceiling light (I’m trolling eBay and antique stores, and hoping to find a vintage one that works)
  • Throw pillows (though I’ll make some of them, I’ll probably purchase one or two as well)

So that’s my design plan!  Putting these ideas together and writing this post has already helped me feel so much more organized and purposeful.  It’s looking like I have some hammering, painting, and sewing coming up (in that order).  How do you tackle decorating projects?  Have any of you ever used a method like this? Thanks for reading along and have a wonderful week!