Our House Colors And A Bit Of Reality

Just a quick post before the weekend.  I put together this board of all of our house colors for reference.  All colors are Benjamin Moore.


Paint Colors text 2

1. November Rain: Master bath, Master bedroom, Kids bathroom, Kitchen floor and trim

2. Agave: Accent stripes in boys room

3. Sandy Hook Gray: Dining room fireplace, Living room trim

4.Winter Ice: Entryway, Hallway

5. Ballet White: Living room walls (on my monitor, this color looks beige but it doesn’t look like that at all in our house.  More like a white with taupey undertones).

6. Deep Creek: Kitchen muntins and door, Living room muntins and mullions

7. Morning Dew: Guest room

8. Dark Pewter: Powder room

Unless otherwise stated, all trim in our house is Kelly Moore Swiss Coffee.  That’s also the color on the walls in the kitchen and in the office.  BM makes a Swiss Coffee but the KM one is softer.

Secondly, I wanted to throw a little truth in the mix today.  You may remember this image from my last post:

urban orchard interiors

It looks like a quiet peaceful garden here.  But that’s because there’s no volume on this blog.  Below is an image looking out of the second floor window of the boys’ room:

Screen shot 2013-02-08 at 2.50.14 PM

This is College Avenue.  In the morning and afternoon rush hour there is a steady stream of cars driving faster than they should on this street.  There are stop signs a couple of blocks in either direction and it is a heavy pedestrian street with lots of shops and restaurants 2 blocks down so it’s not like a freeway, but too often cars are rushing to get somewhere and racing up to the next stop sign.  Every weekday I cross that busy street right there with at least three kids (sometimes more if we are bringing friends home) and can’t tell you how many times we have almost been mowed down.  For the last year I have led our neighbors on a crusade to petition the city for better traffic calming measures here.  There are four schools within a four block radius as well as a playground, library and dog park.  The city came back with a response that everything was fine, case closed.  While I have handed the reins over to another mom who lives right across the street to fight the good fight, it is still one that gets my blood boiling everyday.  Especially because a few years ago a kindergarten student at our elementary was killed at a bad intersection just a few blocks away from here by a driver in a hurry.

BUT, what I really meant to write about before I got on my soapbox was how deceptive the photos of our yard are with that hedge.  When we moved in the hedge was about 3-4 feet lower and there was no fence.  This yard was also all gravel.  We stared at that yellow and salmon colored apartment building and willed the trees and plants to hurry up and grow!  We are slowly transforming this yard and it is nice to feel that all that chaos is at least not visible to us when the kids are playing here but the reality of the city is still right there on the other side.  That’s why I had to call it our “urban oasis.”  And don’t get me started on our back yard.  That’s for another time…

Have a great weekend and be safe!

What We Did Over The Weekend

Besides watching the 49ers lose the super bowl :( John, the kids and I tackled a big project this weekend.   Dealing with a camellia bush was a task I have been putting off for a while but wanted to get done before the spring.  This gigantic tree is one of four that have massively grown up around the house.  This one in particular was blocking light and damaging the paint and shingles on the front of our house.

Screen shot 2013-02-05 at 9.30.47 PM

It was also spaced far enough out from the house that it was taking up some valuable real estate.  We don’t have a huge yard and we want to make every bit of it usable that we can.  So last fall I had the camellia “pruned”:

Screen shot 2013-02-05 at 9.26.36 PMI know, it’s pathetic–poor camellia.  But it really opened up our yard so much and made our living room so much brighter.   I knew after a few months we had to get it taken out.  So about a week ago we did:

Screen shot 2013-02-05 at 9.22.49 PM

Screen shot 2013-02-05 at 9.23.03 PM


Screen shot 2013-02-05 at 9.23.12 PM

Which left us with a 12 x 12 patch of dirt.  But oh the possibilities!

(By the way, looking at these pictures I think of all of us bloggers who were over the moon about our hydrangeas 5 months ago and look at them now!  They look like a garden Morticia would have from the Addams Family.  Just a bunch of brown sticks.  I knew it would look like this for the winter but seeing the contrast in the pictures above makes me realize how dramatic the change is).

But I digress.  We had a bunch of large (24×24) pavers and gravel that we pulled up when we added the lawn on this side of the house so we decided to use some of them for a patio eating area here.  John got back to work laying them and making them perfect just like he did on the brick path.

Screen shot 2013-02-05 at 9.23.23 PM

Screen shot 2013-02-05 at 9.23.50 PM

Then we assembled this arbor and anchored to the ground with concrete.  Added some sod and mulch, a climbing rose and here we are:

arbor after 1 edt

The arbor is redwood so it will fade to gray like the fence has.  Plus we planted a climbing rose next to it which I hope will grow quickly.

arbor after 4 edt

arbor after 3 edt

Below you can see the lavender border I planted too.  I’m hoping it will get enough sun there to do OK.  Not sure once that big tree gets all its leaves again.

arbor after 2 edt

I’ll be sure to do some real afters when everything is blooming in the spring and we get those raised planters full of summer veggies again.  This really is our urban oasis so I plan to work hard to get it looking good.

By the way, has anyone grown Japanese Boxwood before?  We have this low hedge that I planted last year and I know they are slow growers, but how slow?  Will they get noticeably taller in the next couple of years?  Hoping to have a few feet before too terribly long…

Are you doing anything to prepare your garden for spring?

PS-I realized this weekend watching the Super Bowl that my 7 year old thought that Baltimore was Boldemort–like Voldemort.  I guess he thought they were true evil. :)

Making The Living Room More Livable

I’ve been on a picture taking binge lately so I thought I would go ahead and share the updates I’ve made to our tv and living rooms as part of the house tour.  They run together as one big room so doing them together makes sense.

First, from a year or two ago here is our old set up in the living room.  You can see the walls are a soft yellow and the trim is white–this was actually a nice little sitting area but the whole space needed an update.  Also, what you can’t see to the right is a long console table that divided the two rooms.  So this is the before:

Screen shot 2013-01-18 at 3.22.32 PM

And here is the after:


piano room chair detail 2 wtrmrk


Here is a before from a year or two ago.  In morning light the room was not bad but in bad light, that yellow drove me crazy.  A few befores:

Screen shot 2013-01-18 at 5.12.16 PM

Screen shot 2013-01-18 at 5.12.43 PM

Screen shot 2013-01-18 at 5.12.56 PM

And after the updates over the holiday:

tv room 1 wtrmrk

Another before of the old not well-planned gallery wall:

Screen shot 2013-01-18 at 3.23.02 PM

And now after:

tv room gallery wall 1 wtrmrk

Now the display has many more personal pieces and family photos.

tv room gallery wall wtrmrk

This antique waterfall cabinet now holds my McCoy pottery collection.  The blues and greens helped inspire the palette.

tv room cabinet 1 wtrmrk

And the handsome fellow in the photograph above it was John’s grandfather, my oldest’s namesake, Hart Shoemaker.  The other side has photos of my grandparents.


I had to do a close up of some of these frames.  I used Rub N Buff for the first time ever to give some gold accents to this wall and I’m totally addicted.  It is so easy and absolutely transforms them.  In this photo the watercolor has RNB but looks so much like the one above and to the right of it.  Such a quick and inexpensive way to transform an in expensive frame.

I’ll do a post in the coming days to detail all the changes.  I bet you can spot most of them!

Dark and Moody

I’m borrowing this title from a line from Emily Clark’s blog today. :)   You may remember I was having a  yearning for dark rich colors last fall.  Today Emily did a post about considering painting her powder room a darker color and it reminded me that before the holidays I pulled the trigger and painted our powder room a dark color which was a big change from its previous light hue:

Screen shot 2013-01-16 at 4.04.39 PM

Now, it looks like this:

dnstrs bath crates wtrmrk

dnstrs bath toilet wtrmrk

dnstrs bath vanity wtrmrk

So what do you think?  I admit I’m loving it now, but will I feel the same in April?  I was worried about a dark color like this looking flat but I wasn’t wanting a semi gloss because of the rustic styling in here.  So instead I had it painted in flat and then waxed it myself to add depth and movement.  It also makes it easier to wipe clean.  The little kilim was an old rug I had in storage.

You can see the original before and afters of our downstairs bath here.

Thanks for stopping by!

HouseTour: Boys Bedroom

Just a quick addition of an update of the boys’ room to my house tour.  I still have things to do in here but realistically, I’m done for now. :)

Their room has a little entryway before you actually turn right and enter it.  It’s been a wasted space but it’s just large enough for their little chair.  It’s a good quiet place for reading so I gave them my Elvis Reads print–and their metal initials hang on the wall.  I also have corkboards to add here for art, homework, etc., but want to cover them with fabric first.


And you walk in and turn right:


Below is the little entryway looking from their room:


And here’s the updated art wall.  These are vintage prints of The Hobbit from a 1970s calendar.  I went to the dollar store and got these frames:

Here’s a close up–I love these prints!

And here’s a close up of their shelf.  The brass dinosaur is my FIL’s from when he was a kid.  The plant is a carnivore–like a Venus Flytrap but called a Saracenia I think.   My mom got it for the boys and it was fun to watch it eat flies over the summer.

And here’s an art project the boys and I did last week.  It was fun to all work together on it. I drew the lines and the boys colored them in.

Another shot of the dresser with the vintage and antique maps:

And here are the boys beds a bit more made up.  I still need to work on bedding but I do like these wool blankets I got for $15 a piece at the army surplus store.  They are very warm but a bit scratchy.  They would be good to go on top of another comforter or something like that…

And the bay window with the light fixture and more pillows:

I love these ticking stripe pillows from Ikea.

They are called the Margareta and with a down insert they are great.

I paired the gray one with these called the Sanela:

It’s a faux velvet but is really nice.

Here’s a detail of the pillows:

And because I love a good before and after, here is the before:

And After:

And finally, thank you so much to everyone who left such sweet and touching comments on my last post.  I am so often amazed and honored by the compassion and friendships I have found through blogging.  It is an unexpected benefit of joining the blogging world but has quickly become the most important to me.  I hope one day to actually “meet” all the wonderful people I have gotten to know through this blog and say thank you in person!  Our family is starting a new chapter without Uncle James and although we miss him, the busy-ness of our lives at this stage brings into stark relief the fact that life really does go on.  I know it will be a very different one for the Stalters though.  Thanks again to all my blog-friends for your kindness!

House Tour: Master Bedroom

Sorry to have been away for a week or so.  We had a small break in last week and someone stole my laptop!  The good thing to come of it is that we are finally  investing in a security system.  We’ve been meaning to for years…

I wanted to add another room to the house tour since it has recently undergone some changes.  You may remember I found that barley twist four-poster bed at my favorite salvage store not too long ago.  After dealing with the finish which was a pinkish beige stain from 1987, here is the new bed:


It’s hard to tell from these photos but the cover is actually a dark grey linen.  The comforter at the foot of the bed is a faded ticking stripe.


 Our bedroom is a lot smaller now as we moved from a double to a CA king but so far I am really happy with having a larger bed–especially since we frequently have little visitors. :)  Although this room is about the same size as the boys’ room, it lacks the large bay window.  We chose to make this one the master for several reasons though, one of which is this view from the window next to that chair above.  Here’s our view:

Not as great as many around the Bay Area but we are at the bottom of a big hill and surrounded by so many large buildings that seeing roof tops and tree tops was a big bonus for me!  I hope to someday make that window much larger or add a small roof deck with a glass door opening to it there.

 This is the view facing the other way.  The bed is painted in ASCP Old White.  The dresser will probably go on sale soon.  It was supposed to be temporary but here it sits 2 years later!  The mirror was an old garden gate I turned into a little trumeau.  The vintage brass light was an estate sale find.


 The chair needs recovering but I love the green.

 The swing arm lamps are new too.  I ordered them from Lowe’s and they were really reasonable.  Unfortunately, one doesn’t work!  I didn’t want to return it until after I took some pictures though.  Those curtains are also new–from World Market.  I love the pattern but the fabric is very cheap feeling.  One of these days maybe I’ll just add some lining to them to give them more weight.  The prints are antique lithographs of insects I ordered years ago from ebay.  I had to add a couple of weird things to the space so it wouldn’t be to sweet.  :) On my side of the bed are beetles.

Also had to share these wood block prints I got years ago at an estate sale.  I love these silly fat birds!  To the left there is our master bath and to the right is a very small walk in closet–another reason we made this the master!  That stool is an antique milking stool.

I found the green velvet of that one pillow at a discount fabric store here in Berkeley and I love it!  I have got to go back and buy more since I want to add some of these pillows to the living room as well.  It’s a versatile green that works well for fall and winter.

Click here for a small glimpse of our bedroom before the new bed and lamps, etc.

Fall Garden

You may remember in the late spring/early summer I planted a butterfly garden along our newly laid brick path.  Here’s what it looked like a couple of years ago before we laid the brick path:

And here’s what it looked like in early June right after I did all the planting:


After a summer of mild temperatures and lots of fertilizer and TLC, here’s where we are now:

Checking out a hummingbird

The ground cover hasn’t done as well as I had hoped but maybe after a winter of rain it will come in full by the spring.  The Nemesia, Sage, and Penstemon have done great and I hope they will cover the fence by spring.

Besides the garden I have been busy with a lot of other house projects I am excited to share once they are finished.  Lots of painting and other updates have been happening.  I hope to have some photos soon.

Also, a couple of client projects have been really fun for me lately and one has led me to add another color to my deep rich colors list:  BM Elk Horn

If you have unpainted woodwork in a golden or oaky tone and you are wanting to go darker but stay neutral on the walls, this is the color for you!  We painted her dining room this color to accent her 1920s home with a golden colored wood trim and it is gorgeous.  When the room is finished I will share some photos because this little swatch doesn’t do it justice–seriously!

House Tour: Downstairs Bath

I know I have been posting so much the last few days but I wanted to get all this done before we leave tomorrow morning.  This is the last one for at least a week–I promise!

Next on my house tour is our downstairs bath.  This bathroom would be a powder room except that it happens to be a full bath even though I don’t think anyone has ever used the shower before.  We didn’t totally gut this space–just redid the floor, vanity, paint, etc.  I still need to do something about the lighting.  Here is the only before picture I could find from right after we moved in:

The towel holder next to the vanity is actually an antique cranberry picker, stained that color by the cranberries.

The vanity is an antique oak dresser refinished in tung oil.  The sink is the Iron Bell by Kohler.

The sketch above the toilet is an original by my MIL.  The basket is vintage.  You can probably tell I love baskets.  They are all over the house but they provide such great storage as well as texture in a room.  We need the extra storage in this house which, like  most old houses, doesn’t have a lot of closet space.

I added additional storage and display with the crates.  It was supposed to be temporary but that was a while ago…


Believe it or not, this is a really dark room–there is about an hour in the summer where the light shines in and that’s when I took the photos–and I’ve been thinking lately about embracing the coziness and going totally dark in here.  Honestly, there are so many other projects I need to tackle first that by the time I get around to repainting this room, I will have changed my  mind anyway!  :)  But it’s hard to leave well enough alone.

Thanks for stopping by!  Have a great week!

House Tour: Kids Bathroom


This is the impossible to photograph room.  It is so dark and so tiny!  As I said in my last post, we were desperate to find a place for a bathroom for the kids so that John and I wouldn’t be sharing with them for very  long.  With all the renovation, we were able to move our furnace from an upstairs furnace closet to the attic and lo and behold, the furnace closet was the perfect place for the new little bathroom.  Almost…

It was only about 3′ x 6′.  Not enough for a toilet and a sink much less a bath too.  Luckily we could take a couple of feet from the guest room.  You can see where the added space is in the photo below from the line in the floor showing the old and new.

So now it’s 5.5′ x 6′–still really small but we could fit a small tub and shower, a tiny sink and a toilet all in there.  No storage but they can make do until puberty…then it’s every girl or boy for her/himself!

The small pattern of the basketweave tile adds to the feeling of space.  So does the subway tile going all the way up to the ceiling…


Also, a wall mounted sink and a glass shelf take up less visual space.


And by the way, this bathroom has never been this clean before.  I think it lasted just long enough for the photos to be taken and now it’s back to its usual mess.

Thanks for checking it out!

House Tour: Upstairs Landing

This post will be short and sweet!  This is just the little vignette at the top of our stairs.

This display wall was created when we redid the master bath.  Before, this wall was actually the opening for two little bathrooms that were in terrible shape and very late 70s. Here is a before shot of what the view was coming up the stairs:

There were two of these staring at you as you came up the stairs.  We closed these entrances up and instead made our master bath and a small walk in closet that open from the master bedroom.


The bench is antique Chinese, the horse is by a sculptor I love named Botero, the mirror is vintage and the basket is from World Market.

If you go to the right up here you get the kids rooms and to the left is the guest room and master bedroom.  When we turned those two little bathrooms into the master bath, we lost the only other upstairs bath which meant John and I would have to share with the kids.  That didn’t last long and soon after we found room for a little bath upstairs for the kids and guests.  But that will be in my next post!

Stay tuned…