Trick for Textiles

The other day when I was snapping photos for the post about my dresser redo, I realized there was another DIY tip in there that I should do a post about.  A few years ago after we painted our master bedroom I needed a new duvet.  I didn’t want to spend money on something that I wasn’t fully committed to (as you can tell from the photos, we sleep in a double bed which was supposed to be a temporary thing but here we are 4 years later…) so I wanted to find some inexpensive fabric and learn how to sew one.

I am still a big fan of a classic ticking stripe.  I love how traditional and timeless they are but still  rustic.  But I wanted it to be even more subtle than a regular ticking stripe because I wanted this vintage bed I had refinished to stand out.  Anyway, here it is up close:

But here is the actual fabric below (found at a discount fabric store here in Berkeley called, what else, Discount Fabrics).  I just used the reverse:

This trick also works for rugs.  We inherited a few rugs when we got married.  They were mostly from the 1970s and 80s and had a lot of wear but I especially loved this one:

But this is what it really looks like:

It’s hard to tell from this little bit of corner but the pile is worn in spots and the pattern and colors just look more dated on the front side.  The reverse made it seem fresher and the colors more pure.  I actually like the trick of reversing textiles usually to make something more subtle, but on this rug it actually made the pattern crisper.

Hope this gives you some ideas for your home!

Is Black the New White?

Perhaps I am just happy to have a “clean slate” after getting all the Christmas decorations down on December 26th, but lately I have been thinking about the color black done in eclectic design.   Usually when people think of black they think of slick black lacquered modern furniture: masculine, clean lines, etc.  but I am loving black as the backdrop for an eclectic room in the form of a wall color.   This image really caught my eye the other day when I was cruising around Pinterest.   I think black walls are so beautiful and can make such a dramatic statement in a room but what I really love is that they seem to disappear and let everything else come forward whether it’s furniture, art, or flooring, fabric, etc.

Black kitchens?  This is really beautiful but not sure I would have the courage.  I do really love it though.  Could this all be inspired by the chalkboard paint trend (which I love)?  I have noticed that most of the black in these images has a chalky texture (I bet they are mostly Farrow and Ball).  They seem to have almost no sheen but definitely have some depth.


Another gorgeous black kitchen.  We’ve seen white walls and white upper cabinets with black lower cabinets so much lately and now this is the reverse.

I love how this beautiful old cabinet stands out against these black walls.


You can also see how a gallery wall would look on black paint.  The art would really be the focal point.


These walls look more like a dark mushroom color to me but I love how the plates look so crisp and white against them.

Even the trim is black so there is no distracting contrast from the architecture of the space.  The furniture, art, and textiles are really telling the story here.


A very serene black and the green of that lamp looks so beautiful.  Also, your eye is drawn to the texture of the floor here and that bathroom beyond.  The black almost seems to recede and disappear.

Would you ever paint a wall black in your home?

Dresser Before and After, New Website, and Warm Wishes

Here is the after photo of the dresser in our bedroom that I just finished painting.   This was a salvage find that I originally refinished but it received some damage during a move.  Here are the before shots:

And here are the afters:

Luckily I had saved the original knobs when I refinished it the first time and I like the darkness they add to a mostly bright and feminine dresser.  I also wanted to curve of the drawers to stand out more which is why I used contrasting colors.  This is another ASCP project.

I also wanted to apologize for being absent the last few days but as you can tell, I have a new blog/website!  It is a work in progress and there will be more changes to come but switching to WordPress has opened up many possibilities for the site as well as for my business.  I hope to get a portfolio up as well as a shop page.  This transition period shouldn’t affect those of you signed up to follow.  Very special thanks go to my awesome husband who is single-handedly helping me do this.  Keep checking back to see more updates.

And finally, a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone!  I hope you are having a wonderful time with friends and family.

Thanks for stopping by.


Christmas Party

Tonight we had a neighbors drop-in Christmas party.  I’ve been meaning to do this since we first moved here 3.5 years ago and just finally did it this year.  It was a lot of fun and there was talk of it becoming a tradition.

I forgot to take pictures of the spread but luckily my thoughtful husband grabbed the camera and took some shots just as people were arriving.

 I love reading blogs and getting ideas for menus and drinks.  Here was our menu tonight:

Caprese salad skewers (I got the idea from this blog, Terri’s Table).
Ham biscuits (all southerner’s–current and former–have to have these)
Baked brie with strawberry preserves
Cheese and fruit plate
Bread and olive oil
Brownies and cookies

And I think every party has to have a special drink.  So besides wine and champagne, I made cranberry-tinis following this recipe.  Yummy!

Hope you all are enjoying your holidays and festivities.  Thanks for stopping by!

The Not So Perfect, Perfect Tree

Sometimes when I look at all the amazing design blogs out there with all the Christmas trees decorated so beautifully with color coordinated ornaments or themes, or done in all white or handmade parchment paper ornaments, with all white lights, I feel a little like our tree is the Charlie Brown tree.

OK, not really.  Our tree is a good size and all but our decorations are definitely not designed.  We have a lot of nice ornaments–we were lucky to receive many when we were married and as gifts over the years.  My mom has also been really generous buying ornaments for the boys that they get to pick out.  But nothing was done with any intention or plan.  There is no overall color theme or trendy unifying style.  The boys also love colored lights (which I don’t think I have seen in any design blog or magazine for the last several years!) so those are staying.  And of course, we have many ornaments that the kids actually made at school or Christmas parties or at home.   (Below is one my 4 year old made at preschool this year–it’s a glitter and glue tree):

The next picture is of an ornament from my husband’s childhood.  Plastic apples–very 1970’s!

Below is from when Duncan was going through a frog phase–he really loved frogs:

Hart was really into sea creatures for a while there.  My mom got each of the boys a squid that year:

This next one is one of my favorites.  It was a gift when I was pregnant with our now almost 7 year old:

Seriously, what is this one?  I guess it’s some kind of a fish–maybe a Hanukkah fish one of the boys made at school?  I don’t know.  It’s really weird…

So, yeah, nothing matches on our tree!  But I love it–I love that it tells the story of our lives so far.  And every year I’ll add a mercury glass ball or a vintage glass ornament, or a craft project from school, or even a weird felt fish that actually just makes everyone uncomfortable because it stares at you with one googly eye.

For me right now, Christmas is about warmth and fun and making memories for our family.  And it is so rewarding to me that the kids get so excited when we bring out the ornaments each year and they help me decorate the tree and we talk about each ornament and where it came from and when we got it, etc.  So all the kookiness of the mismatched tree is totally worth it to me right now.  I’ll have plenty of time later when they grow up to create a “perfect” Christmas tree.  (I’ll definitely get rid of that fish…)

Dun dun dun!

Reader DIY

I wanted to share some photos from a reader who did the rug DIY project that I did for our dining room.  Here is a picture from my previous post.  And here are the images Tery sent me of the rug she made: 

I am so impressed!  I only sewed 6 of these Ikea rugs together but Tery did 16 to cover her bedroom floor.  I think it looks great–like an antique kilim or Morroccan carpet!  I also like how Tery is using the furniture to hold down the edges.  I’m sure that helps keep it straight.  Mine is holding up pretty well although I have to throw it in the wash every couple of weeks.  The kids run through the dining room so many times a day and it really does show dirt.   I would have posted some update pics of mine but it’s overdue for a wash…

Thanks for sharing Tery and letting me hear from you.  If any other readers have tackled their own projects and would like to share them on the blog, send me some photos and I’ll post them.

Thanks for stopping by!

Master Bath–Before and After

If you’ve read the blog from the beginning, you know that one of our first big projects with the house that had any visual gratification (ie. not the roof or foundation) was our master bath.  I posted pictures of it in an earlier post but didn’t include before pics.  I found some and although you don’t get a sense of how the layout of the upstairs drastically changed, you can see how different the space feels.

Below are the befores of the upstairs bathrooms.  When we purchased the house there were two tinybathrooms at the top of our stairs.  They were literally falling apart and had caused a lot of water damage to the underlying structure.

We knocked out the wall between the two little baths and made one larger (still small by today’s standards) en-suite master bath and a small walk-in closet for the master as well.  Instead of 2 bathroom doors facing you as you walk up the stairs, we now have a large display wall seen in this previous post.

After knocking down some walls and adding others, we were left with this space:

And here is our completed master bath looking from it into our bedroom:

The vanity was made from reclaimed barn wood from southern CA.  I designed and refinished it myself.  The rug is a vintage kilim from the Santa Fe Flea Market.  The cabinet on the vanity is a French antique from the Alameda Flea Market.   The etagere is from Restoration Hardware.  All plumbing fixtures are Sunrise Specialty.  Sinks and tub are vintage from The Sink Factory.  And my contractor, Karen Dinardo of Dinardo Design and Construction was fantastic throughout the whole process.  I can’t recommend her highly enough.

The train rack and all wall fixtures are from Restoration Hardware.

The little chair is a vintage 1930’s folding chair from a salvage yard.

The little stool is an antique milking stool from Urban Ore.  Vase is Ikea.

Blue enamelware pan is vintage from somewhere in FL.

The lantern is a vintage electrical fixture that I pulled the wiring out of and hung instead with candles.

A word about herringbone patterns–I LOVE them in tile.  You may have noticed I repeated this in my fireplace redo earlier in the year.  Herringbone is so classic and traditional and adds so much texture to any space.  See Darryl Carter’s book The New Traditionalfor more ideas on classic tile patterns and for overall inspiration for this room.

Close up of patina on cabinet.

Christmas berries!

This bathroom was a triumph for me because when we bought this house 3.5 years ago, it almost seemed like there was too much to take on–The roof leaked, the foundation was crumbling and far from earthquake proof, there was knob and tube wiring everywhere, and these were the problems that you couldn’t see!  There were also floors with holes in them, strange layouts and oddly configured rooms, old carpeting, etc etc etc.

This bathroom was the first big project we completed that we could actually see the difference after we did it.  The foundation and the roof were important, but didn’t really feel all that great to do.  This bath was real pay off for us.  And it was the first time John or I ever had double sinks in our bathroom or an ensuite–what a change that was!

Thanks for stopping in!  I hope this gives you some inspiration for your home.

Little Trees

Here’s an easy way to make those inexpensive little artificial trees look like the real thing.  A few weeks ago I bought some of these little fake trees at Target for about $7 each.  They are probably marked down now as it is so close to Christmas.  They are lovely little trees except for the plastic tripod bottoms.

Then I went to Ikea and bought some of these pots (called Mandel) for about $2 or $3 each.   I like how they look like gray Venetian plaster.

Really though, any pot that’s the right size would work–terra cotta or even these little ones also from Ikea (called Kardemumma).

I then got some quick dry cement and cemented all of them into their pots.  Now they look like they’re real trees growing out of their little planters.  I added one to the guest room to make it festive for my mom when she comes next week and one to greet people as they walk in the door.  I also added this one to our landing with some glass balls.  Pottery Barn is having some  great sales right now on their mercury glass ornaments!

 I also added some raffia I had to use as a garland:

Here is a shot of our landing.  And I couldn’t resist adding ornaments to our antlers:

 Thanks for stopping by!

Brass Faucet Update

If you’ve been reading the blog for a while you know that I am currently obsessed with unlacquered brass.  I ordered a brass bridge faucet in lacquered brass recently because unlacquered brass is impossible to find except at high end specialty fixture stores.  I immediately took it to The Sink Factory here in Berkeley on San Pablo.  If you’re in the Bay Area and you ever have specialty plumbing needs or want to work with vintage fixtures, Ragnar at The Sink Factory is your man!  He provided us with our vintage claw foot tub in our master bath as well as all the fixtures.

The guys at TSF stripped off the lacquer for me and I have had it at home for a couple of weeks now and can already see the patina starting to form on it.  I do pull it out of the box every once in a while and handle it to speed up the aging process but it has not even been installed yet and I can already see how it will darken and burnish as it gets used.  Here are some photos:

Below is a photo of the fixture before it was stripped.   It’s by Ponticello and seems inspired by a similar Rohl fixture (that is about 5 times the price):

I’ll keep updating as things progress.  Thanks for stopping by!