Client Consultation….Living Room Dilemma

Hey girls and guys!

Today I thought I’d do something a bit different and share an abridged version of one of my most recent e-decorating consults.

Christine, who mind you, is one of the most loveliest people ever, was having some trouble deciding what to do in her living room:

“Hi Kristine!
I’m in the process of decorating the 1927 Dutch Colonial that my husband and I moved into in January. It’s been great so far but I have to admit that the living room is quite daunting. It’s got sooooo much potential that I’m afraid of screwing it up; built in floor to ceiling bookcases, great big brick fireplace, large picture window, and everything is painted a cozy, cottagey white right now. I would love to know what you would do if this was your room.

Well, she was certainly right about the room having a tonne of potential. I couldn’t have been happier with my new little play space! Here are some of the pics she sent me…

And the criteria:
– Retain existing colour palette of sage, chocolate and white.
– Retain paint scheme.
– Sofa and armchairs need to stay.
– TV to stay in current location.
– More purposeful bookcase display.
– Immediate budget of $500-$1000.
– Practical and attractive storage solution for TV components.
– Needs to be family and pet friendly.
– Inviting modern cottage theme in keeping with the style of the house.

I’ll spare you the 33 page document Christine ended up with though will share some of the suggestions, hints and ideas I offered her.

Suggested Layout
(click to enlarge)

Alternate Layouts
It’s easy to get stuck in a floor plan rut. How many of us have positioned furniture a certain way just because ‘that’s how the previous owners had it’. Although a particular layout will sometimes work best for a space, it pays to keep an open mind and consider other options.
As long as balance is retained a room may work well in any number of ways.
Think outside the square and spend some time moving existing furniture around. Use cardboard or paper to mimic the scale of any pieces you don’t currently own to help gauge the best possible layout for the room.

Alternate Layout 1
(click to enlarge)
Alternate Layout 2
(click to enlarge)

Christine is about to replace her carpet with dark timber floorboards so I suggested using a large area rug to provide an anchor for her furniture. I recommended a woven natural material (like jute or seagrass) to add warmth and texture, or a subtle pattern (such as the ticking stripe above or a trellis or quatrefoil) to add some depth and interest. Because she’s on a budget (and open to putting in a bit of elbow grease!), I also suggested the option of painting her own inexpensive sisal or jute rug.

I liked the softness and neutrality of Christine’s current white curtains.

Though to showcase that gorgeous picture window they just needed a bit of tweaking. I recommended she place a thin black rod towards the top of her wall near the cornice, making sure it extended slightly either side of the window frame, then hang full drop curtains on the windows extremities only. If she requires privacy, bamboo blinds can be added too.

Christine was happy with the white brickwork around her fireplace though wasn’t too keen on the brass surround. I suggested she just paint it herself.

To remedy the dilemma of housing for her television components, I suggested placing a little white console table or cabinet in the wall nook to the left of the fireplace and running any cables through the wall or hiding them with a cord concealer. To create the illusion of symmetry I also recommended hanging or resting a largish white-framed mirror above the console table to mimic the doorway on the right side of the fireplace.

Because the TV is staying in place above the mantel, I suggested a little decor tweaking to create more impact without detracting from TV viewing.

One of Christine’s biggest annoyances was the bookcase wall.

She wasn’t sure how to go about decorating the cases to look ‘designery’.
One suggestion I made was the possibility of using a decal in the nook above the door frame rather than ornamentation, kinda like this…

Lone armchairs can sometimes look a little, well, lonely. To give Christine’s single chairs a bit more definition and purpose in her room I suggested partnering them with a small side table and standard lamp or even a little cane basket or stack of vintage cases.

A great way to add instant charm and extra dimension to a living room is with a character-filled, personality-packed coffee table. For Christine’s space I suggested a box-style piece, like a steamer trunk, old blanket box or textural cane chest, to fit in with the size of the room and scale of existing furniture. Because new reproductions of pieces like this can be just a tad (read; ridiculously!) expensive I suggested Christine check out Craig’s List, eBay, thrift and charity stores, along with yard sales, for an original piece in need of a loving new home.

Christine’s self-described ‘blah’ wall (with the bird silhouettes) needed a bit of a lift.

Due to the amount of visual interest the nearby bookcase projects, I suggested avoiding anything too small, busy or asymmetrical. Instead I recommended placing one large object centrally on the wall, like a big starburst mirror or clock, or an ordered collection of three or four prints hung vertically, horizontally or in a block.

Along with floor plan layouts and an inspiration board a textiles and textures mood board also helps keep you on track when deciding what to incorporate into a space.

I recommended keeping things natural, textural and neutral by sticking with flat colours (like plain linen, burlap and leather) and incorporating one stripe and one floral/feminine pattern in keeping with the existing sage, chocolate and white colour scheme.

So, whadda ya think?

Of course that’s just the tip of the iceberg – Christine got a tonne of extra info, more in-depth explanations and additional pics – though I didn’t wanna bore all you guys with too many project specific details.

And here’s part of the sweet response I got from her…

“LOVE you. Seriously. I can’t wait to get started! It all looks FAB-U-LOUS. I am so ready to take everything off of those bookshelves and re-do them. I’m going to be a very busy/happy girl.”

If you’re interested in a design consultation for your home, view this page for some further information.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Email this to someone

Master Bedroom…Some Progress

Did you think I’d forgotten all about my bedroom make-over?

Nah, course not, truth is, I’ve just been super busy.

Between furniture refurbs, design consultations, my real full-time job, writing this blog (and checking out everyone else’s), housekeeping (etc, etc, blah, blah, blah) and this little thing called a ‘life’ – which apparently requires you attend weddings and catch-up with family and friends every once in a while (really, how totally inconvenient :-), I haven’t been left with too much spare time.

I have however managed to make some progress in the bedroom.

I made a quick trip to IKEA for this…

…and these…

Helped with the installation of this…

Researched how best to re-create a giant one of these…

And started sprucing up some of my second-hand furniture finds.

So it’s slowly getting there.

I still need to source new bedding, get more window treatment stuff, finish snazzying up the furniture, find some thrifty decor, create some thrifty decor and so on and so forth.

I really can’t wait to get it done and share it with you guys already!

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Email this to someone

Starburst Twig Wreath

If you’ve read this blog more than just once you probably know I have a bit of a thing for using natural elements to decorate my home, and for a budget-savvy gal like me, there’s no better way of introducing this textural earthiness to a space than via a great-outdoors scavenger hunt. So, until money grows on trees, I’m taking my free share of what already does…twigs that is.

This starburst inspired wreath was basically free and super-duper fast and easy to make.

Fortunately for me, where I live there’s no shortage of sticks just lying around…

…and after collecting my pile – with a bit of help (or hindrance, more like)…

…I broke them down into similar sized lengths.

I then cut a disk from an old cereal box to create my base. I figured the twigs wouldn’t completely cover and hide it so I wrapped it in twine which gives it extra rigidity as well as a nice, rustic look.

Using a hot glue gun, I worked in sections to attach my sticks to the twine covered disk, building them up where necessary to create a pleasing wreath shape.

To finish, I simply tied a length of twine around the central disk to create a hanging loop.

I like to use decorative upholstery tacks to hang stuff like this.

My little wreath is a bit random and unstructured, and whilst not for everyone, I like the rustic appeal of it. The great thing about a project like this is you can make it as neat or as messy, big or small, bulky or sparse as you like!


Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Email this to someone

DIY Customised Timber Knobs

Firstly, thanks so much to everyone for the lovely comments about my map cabinet makeover. I was seriously surprised and overwhelmed – you guys are just the best.

There was a lot of interest in the compass knobs I created and some of you wanted to see a more in-depth tutorial on how to make them, so here goes…

You will need….

Plain Timber Knob/s

Image/s to Apply

Printer and Standard Paper

Spray or Craft Paint

Clear Matte Spray Sealer

Scissors or a Craft Knife

Paint Brush

(such as PVA, Craft Glue or Mod Podge)

1. Using your computer, create or find an image you’d like to use and scale it to an appropriate size for your knob.

2. Print out your image onto regular copy paper.

3. Colour match the background of your image then paint your knob to co-ordinate.

4. Lightly spray your image with clear matte sealer. Allow to dry and then repeat the process.

This gives your image a protective coating and stiffens it slightly to help prevent ink run and paper bubbling during the gluing process.

5. Once completely dry, cut closely around your image using sharp scissors or a craft knife.

6. Apply a thin coat of adhesive to your knob using a paint brush.

7. While the glue is still wet, position your image in place. Press down firmly and smooth it all over, paying special attention to any edges.

8. Once dry, give your knob two or three coats of clear spray sealer.

For extra protection I like to finish with a few coats of brushed-on clear acrylic poly too.

9. Fini! Admire your new custom knobs (oh yeah, and find some furniture to put them on!).

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Email this to someone

Nautical Cabinet Makeover

I found this cute little cupboard in the gutter.

Needless to say within a few minutes it had magically teleported itself to the back of my car.

I knew that with a little love someone would eventually prefer this little guy inside their home so got to work painting the body in rich ebony before distressing and sealing it.

Well, that was the easy part though because here’s the main reason I imagine it was on the curb to begin with….

Someone had been waaay too zealous with an electric sander.

Not only is there chipboard showing through the veneer, those lines you can probably make out are actually deep ridges!

Sure I coulda just filled, sanded and painted the whole top though I wanted to make a bit more of a statement than that.

Enter….my good friend gift wrap.

I adore gorgeous paper and for some reason have always been drawn to vintage maps – which I thought would be just perfect for this project.

The sheet of gift wrap I bought wasn’t quite big enough to cover the whole top of the cabinet so I took it to my local printer who scanned, enlarged and printed a new copy for just $20.

I created an accurate template using baking paper which I could use as a guide when cutting it out.

Once cut to size, I gave the map a few light coats of clear matte spray.

This just helps protect the ink and stops it from running if the paper becomes too damp during the gluing or final sealing process. It also helps to stiffen the paper and avoid bubbling.

To attach the paper I applied a pretty thick coat of slightly diluted PVA to the cabinet (you could use Mod Podge – I just didn’t have any) then smoodged (hey, it’ a word) my map into place.

I then applied about five coats of satin clear sealer using a paint brush making sure to cover all of the edges really well.

To tie-in with the map theme I also created these cute little compass knobs using basic DIY decals. Anyone with a printer and standard copy paper can do this at home! You can check out my full tutorial here (or read-on below for a summary).

Simply paint a plain timber knob any colour you like then find or create a design on your computer and print it out onto normal paper.

(It’s best if the background colour of your design matches the colour of your knob so it blends in seamlessly).

Here’s my compass design if anyone wants to use it. Just re-scale it to the size you need.

The process of attaching it to the knob is basically the same as that I used for adhering my map to the cabinet top.

Give your image a few light coats of clear matte spray, cut around it closely and then glue and smoodge it into place on your knob. Finish with a few coats of satin sealer to protect it and voila!

Making these was easy and the possibilities are practically endless – you could use letters, numbers, symbols, little clock faces, nursery rhyme characters for a kids room, sweet little birds…anything!

Anyways, a few final before and afters just for comparisons sake….

I hope you enjoyed this little project.

I know it can be tempting just to scroll down and check out all the photos though if you have time give it a read too cause I tried packing it with a few handy hints.


Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Email this to someone