Design from my head

Been working on a Project in which I have to design as many Room Vignettes as I can, from scratch. No actual room or client to draw inspiration from, just a whole bunch of random thoughts swimming around in my head. Some of them didn’t come out half bad. Here is a sampling…what do you think?









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Window Coverings

So on wednesday evening I returned from Chicago where I attended the Window Coverings show. My boss wanted me to go to attend some trend/market research seminars, and to scout some new vendors for window coverings. The seminars were pretty good- nothing super new, but I gained some insight into how others are running their design businesses. The Window coverings expo itself was a complete waste of time. There were so few vendors there- the only ones worth looking at, I already knew about! The rest were cheap knock-offs of Hunter Douglas.

One thing that I was supposed to be on the lookout for was a decent ready-made drapery panel vendor. Something we could sell to the more budget minded client. Of course, I didn’t find what I was looking for. Right now, most of our drapery sales are custom and in the $800-2000 range PER WINDOW!!!!!! Insane, right?We are looking to test some programs geared towards first time homeowners that would allow us to be in a more reasonable $250- 500 per window range. But thats still to rich for my blood….and the blood of most of my first time homeowner friends. But whatever….those of us with a more realistic budget can stick to DIY and discount retail for our drapery panels.

Like I have said in previous posts, I don’t particularly like Window Coverings.  I would NEVER put a Roller shade, honeycomb or wood blind on my windows. Well, I might if I lived in a city or suburb where I had neighbors- but, I don’t. I live in the woods, I only have 1 neighbor whose house we can see, and they really can’t see in any of our windows.

In the right circumstances, I do really like drapery panels. They are not good everywhere- but can be  fantastic decorative element in room. They can soften walls, add color and pattern as well as create height.

Currently, I only have drapery panels in 2 rooms right now. Our Living/Dining room and our Master Bedroom. The panels in the LR/DR are really only for decoration and softening – they are never closed. The panels in the bedroom are only there to block out the light when we want to sleep in on sunday mornings.

I only recently added the panels in the LR/DR. They are ready made rod pocket panels that are hung by Ring clips off a wood rod:

The Room is partially open concept- but there is a distinct LR area and a distinct DR area. We have the LR and adjoining hallway painted BM Sandlot Grey, and the DR area Pops with BM Raspberry Truffle ( The colors look much brighter in the pics) To pull the 2 areas together, I used the same drapery in both areas.  The only window in the LR is a set of French Doors, and in the DR we have 1 set of double hung windows.

The 84″  long rod pocket panels are from Cost Plus Wold Market. Here. They are 100% cotton and have a nice lining on the back. The are currently listed for $34.99, but I got them during a sale for $29.99. The wood hardware was purchased as un-finished components from Home Depot. Rings and clips, Brackets, Finials, Rod. You can purchase pre-stained versions, but I sanded and stained the hardware myself to match other wood the room. I took me all of 1 afternoon.

Total Cost for 2 Large Windows:

4 drapery Panels (48×84)= $119.96

4 sets of 7 Rings with brass clips= $31.88

4 finials= $39.98

6 brackets ( we added a center bracket for added support)= 47.82

2 – 12 foot dowels= $20

TOTAL= $259.54!

Estimated Cost from one of my “Budget” vendors at work= $900. Total savings $640!!!!!

We had a wide expanse to cover, and ready made metal rods are not easy to find in the width we needed. They can typically be found up to 108″ for under $40.  So this is why we used extremely long (12′) wooden dowels as the rods. For the LR we kept it at 12′ so the panels could be completely out of the way of the doors, but still hang with a 2.5′ width when pushed back. The DR rod we cut to 10′- but it is basically the same concept- out of the way of the window.

I went super cheap with Christmas tree shop treatments in our current Master Bedroom ( the NEW master bedroom will have treatments like the LR). Sure they don’t look great- but they were a functional Placeholder option for us when we knew that we would eventually be remodeling the new Bedroom. We have 2 standard double hung windows. Each window only has 1 panel that when closed, covers the window, but can be pushed to one side when not in use. The $9.99 each panels are a heavy Velour fabric, so they are great for keeping the light out. They are tab top for easy install, since I take them off regularly to clean so I can keep the dust mites out of the bedroom. The metal adjustable rods are a steal at $14 each! Total for the Room= Under $50!!!

Here are some of my favorite Sources if you want to get started on Budget DIY window treatments:

Cost Plus world Market


Home Depot

West Elm


Some last words to keep in mind:

  • The height to hang the Rod, so that the Drapery panels just skim the floor
  • The width of your rod- take into account where the panels will sit when open vs. Closed
  • Do you need a lining? They hang straighter when there is a lining.
  • Wood or metal Hardware. Can you use an adjustable rod?
  • Grommets, rings, tab top, rod packet.

Dill or moss?

We have moved along in the room and will be painting soon… touches to the drywall being done as I write this post.

While I head to chicago to meet Candace Olson, I will leave you pondering our paint color choice. J wanted a green room. Luckily, he doesn’t care what green. Here are some of the final contenders, all from Benjamin Moore.

From left to right: Dill Pickle, Castleton Mist, Brookside Moss, Dill Weed.

Which one do you think I chose?

Retail Therapy

This week I was having some battery issues with my iPhone, and ended up at the apple store at the Mall twice! in two days! I was not a happy camper. Ultimately, the second time they figured out what the issue was and I once again have normal battery life on my phone. To make a long story short……

The second night at the mall, I arrived about 15 minutes before my appointment so I decided to take a walk around Pottery Barn which is right across the way from the apple store. I love Pottery Barn, but most of it the items are just a bit outside my budget. We did get a lot of Pottery Barn items for our wedding and I keep my eyes open for a good sale always hoping there will be an awesome deal somewhere within those country chic walls.

This day however, I was extremely pissed at Apple and I needed a bit of Retail Therapy. I found it in the form of the cutest little vase in the world for a whopping $5.95!!!! It had been marked down about 5 times, and they had 3 of them left- I almost bought all 3, but reluctantly stopped myself.

The vase stands about 5″ tall and only 4″ around at it’s widest point. It has the sweetest little painting on it of a deer and some flowers. It will be the perfect vase to move around the house and put in new spring buds as I cut them from the yard. Here is another side, this is the backside of the deer:

And another side with Flowers:

I’m sure that this vase will move around the house to many locations, but right now, it fit in perfectly with the current Decor on my dining table.

I think its a Very Spring-y look. The collection is: A straw placemat, A Tiffany Vase ( wedding gift) filled with Forsythia branches cut from my front yard, 2 Mercury glass candlesticks ( both Christmas gifts- one from Pottery Barn, one from Home Goods- and  no one can tell the difference!) topped with spring green candles.  There is also a the most fabulous silver swan salt dish with a little spoon that I recently received from my grandmother when she was “Getting rid” of stuff she doesn’t use ( On that same day, she also gave me about 20 other Salt/pepper items, and enough napkins and tablecloths to last a lifetime). Here it is:

Has anyone else recently had some Retail Therapy that was so inexpensive it just made the therapy that much better!??

Light of my life.

Since our King Size Bed will be placed on a wall that is only 100″ long, we will not have room for “nightstands”, which means no bedside lamps.  But we do need light next to our bed, and although we will be adding some recessed can lights to the room, I like to have ambient and reading light as well. J is also building 2 drawer boxes into the wall so we will each have a 8″x8″ tabletop and drawer next to the bed, enough room for the essentials: iPhone, chapstick and a water bottle.

We went back and forth on what kind of lighting we wanted for weeks! Now, I work at a Decorating Company and have access to thousands of designer light fixtures at wholesale cost…..but my budget was still less than even wholesale prices could get me. I most often find that I can do better on price- and still get a great quality when I do my own research and buy from a retail store.

We discussed hanging pendants from the ceiling on either side of the bed. I really liked the idea of vintage looking seeded glass pendants, Like this or this.  But I began to think about how the electrical source coming from the ceiling would have to hang in front of our beautiful new wall and would cut in front of the beam. So that Idea was scrapped…..although I will find somewhere else in the house to use those pendants!

So then we began looking at Sconces. At first we were thinking of something a bit more traditional, Like this. Classic, functional and Cheap!

But that’s to easy! Of course we went back and forth 10 more times looking at sconces like this, and this, and finally this one from Pottery Barn.

I decided that the PB sconce was the look I wanted….but at $189 a piece!!!! I don’t think so!

I began looking at the big box stores and found a few others that could work…but they were still a bit more than I really wanted to spend. Then I saw a post on Pinterest about using Outdoor Lighting Indoors! Brilliant!

I found just what I needed at Lowes for….wait for it……….$24 each!!!!!!!!!!

This is what we got: The Portfolio Rust Outdoor Wall Light It has the Rusted Bronze finish for that cottage in the country look, and it has the seeded glass to add a nice vintage feel. I can’t wait to get them on the Wall!

Drywall and Reclaimed beams

After we ripped down the wall between the Den and the Guest room there were a few other changes that had to be made before we could move forward. For one, the Den was covered in cheap 1970’s paneling on the walls and some concoction of hard foam on the ceiling.  Although it was painted and we didn’t mind it when the room was the “den” now we needed it to match the nice smooth walls in the Guest Bedroom side. So J ripped the Paneling and replaced it with new Drywall.

As you can see, we ripped the molding off from around the doors and window and that will get replaced with matching molding to the other side of the room. When we removed the paneling from above the fireplace, it was obvious that our wood mantle was crooked and warped- so we removed that and will be replacing it with a beautiful reclaimed beam as well as a new framing system above so that we can mount a flat screen TV over the fireplace ( more on that Later).  One day we will also replace that closet door to match all the others. J wants to put a Bamboo curtain there……Not going to happen!

On the other side of the room, we did a couple things. This is what it looked like before:

We will be leaving the single door there, and putting a wall in the hallway so that the space can become a small Closet office- Like this , but with a door on it. The closet next to that has had a major change. We removed the doors, broke through to the bathroom, added a partial wall where the doors used to be and created a small hallway into our En suite bath.

On either side of the opening there will be built in shelves. To the Left side, the shelves will be about 18″ deep, and will be utilized like a linen closet. On the right side, the shelves will only be 5″ deep, and I will use them more for display items since it can be seen from the other side of the room. Do you see that Wood Beam going up the right side of this pic? That’s the wall for my brand new, custom WALK IN CLOSET!

We needed more closet space, because the small one by the fireplace was just not going to cut it. That will be J’s closet and I will get the big one! There is a window back there that lets in a good amount of light, and though the room is large, it’s not cavernous, so we did not want to close it off completely. So, We built a wall that is only 6 feet tall, it will not have a door, just an opening at one end. This will allow light to travel back and forth between the closet and the bedroom. It also allowed us to use these really awesome reclaimed beams that we found just lying around at my parents house! Here is what the wall looked like as J began placing drywall over the framing.

You can see that we used two beams- one that lays across the top of the wall, and the other that goes from floor to ceiling at the end- basically a faux structural element. Our Bed will be placed on this wall facing the fireplace. Here is a floor plan- not to scale.

We have a few more things to complete this week before we begin adding the built in shelves/closet and then begin painting. We have already done some new electrical, more on that later, and We need to fill in the gaps in the hardwood floors from where we removed the walls (wait till you see this- stone tile!!), and we are in the process of covering the popcorn-esque texture on the ceiling in the former Guest room side.

What do you all think??

The Beginning of the End…

A little over two years ago, my husband and I bought our first house. We love it, but it’s your standard 1960’s ranch, with not much character and small bedrooms. The bathrooms and kitchen had been somewhat updated over the years, and we didn’t have any of the dreaded wallpaper to deal with, so we felt that we could move in and live with everything for a while before we made changes. Sure, we painted and decorated the main rooms of the home, but nothing major had happened until this winter. January 24th to be exact….

In early January, we took a vacation to California ( wine and food, oh my!). While on vacation, we discussed our plan to get started on creating the new Master Bedroom. J was going to do all the work himself, along with the help of my brother- both of whom are very handy, and with the added guidance of my father, a retired General Contractor.  On January 24th, I got up and went to work as usual, and then had a work dinner, so I did not get home until about 9:30. When I walked in the door, J was sitting on the sofa, and he asked me if I could grab something from the Den before I sat down. I obliged, but when I opened the door to the  Den…….I was BLOWN AWAY! He had knocked the wall down and got the project started…I had no idea he was going to start that day!

Let me back up a bit…… In order for you to understand our project, you need a tour of our home. Here is a quick sketch of the basic layout:

As you can see, its a boring rectangle! Believe it or not, this was the Best house we could find for the money- even with the down economy! 70 miles from NYC= Expensive Real Estate.  Don’t get me wrong, we Love our little abode, but we bought it knowing we had to visualize the potential. Luckily for us, I am a Decorator and my husband is a Landscaper!

Here are some of the things we have complaints about, and plan on DIY’ing over the next eternity years :

  • The front door is NEVER used. You have to walk along side the garage, past the Breezeway/Kitchen door, around the corner of the house and up the front steps to get to it! Then it opens up right into our Dining Room Table!?!?
  • When you walk in through the Breezeway door, you are looking right at our giant white refrigerator! And the breezeway doors are sliders, not convenient when you are carrying groceries.
  • Though we have 3 full Bathrooms, 2 of them are smaller than small, and one has a shower that a 5 year old would feel cramped in.
  • We both LOVE to cook, but we have very limited counter space and the kitchen is closed off from the living areas.
  • See that weird box sticking out into our Dining Room? That’s a coat closet. It doesn’t need to be there. See the other one? That’s the basement stairs.
  • We have a beautiful backyard, and French doors that look out onto it….except one of them doesn’t open, and we can’t find a screen door that will fit for those warm summer nights.
  • We have a Full, unfinished basement….it’s great, but it’s unfinished.
  • The Master Bedroom is a decent size- but that front corner of the house is very dark, and the bathroom is so small that if you want to close the door, you practically have to stand on top of the toilet.

So, Now that you know all the little issues, Let’s get to the Resolution!

We decided to switch things around and make our Master Bedroom on the back side of the house, We will still have 3 bedrooms, because the “den” was not considered a bedroom. And we will eventually finish the basement to be a big family room.  By knocking the wall down between the Den and the guest room, we created a large open space across the back side of the house. We also broke thru the the small closet into our Hall bath. So now, we have a Fireplace and a large bathroom!

Since I was not aware that the wall would be coming down when it did, I did not have a chance to take “Before” Pics of each room. So here is what it looked like right after the wall came down.

The room is HUGE!!! I can’t wait to wake up to the sun gleaming in through the windows, and to curl up in bed in front of the crackling fire.  Its been about 2 month now, and since J is doing most of the work himself, it is coming along slowly, but we are in the final stretches! We might even get to start painting this weekend!

Over the next few weeks, I will continue to update on the personal touches we added, the materials we used, and how much the whole thing cost ( hint: it’s a whole lot less than you think!).


“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

~William Morris ( 1834 – 1896, was an English textile designer, artist, writer, and utopian socialist. )

It’s with this in mind that I begin my blog. I have found that if you fill your home with only items that fall into these 2 buckets, then you will create a space that you love. Keep in mind that these terms “useful” and “beautiful” can be interpreted in many different ways, and work for any style, taste or budget. Extra Points for having “stuff” in your home that is both useful AND Beautiful! For example……a handmade wooden cutting board is Useful for cutting bread, serving cheese hors d’eurves at your cocktail party, or as a beautiful decoration to dress up your Kitchen counter.

Ash Wood Cutting Board from Terrain.