Monday, August 31, 2009

Little Miss Muffett

I am still working on our guest room but I thought I would give you a little sneak peek of one of the projects. Back in April I wrote a post on great guest bedrooms and shared with you my goal of only using things that I already owned, found in thrift stores or Craiglist to transform this room into a wonderfully tranquil space. Guess what? I am staying true to my word. Here is a chair that I found for practically nothing on Craigslist.

I had been seeking a slipper chair style and this filled the bill perfectly! Don't you just LOVE it?


Let me show you the wonderful upholstery up close. Oh wait, the picture below is of Mr. Decor and I ripping off the upholstery.
Tip: The couple that tears apart furniture together can often avoid the high fees associated with marriage counseling. :)


Ah, much better. Mr. Decor reinforced the chair with a bit of glue and some clamps. We each took a turn sanding the chair.


After a good wipe down I then primered and painted the chair frame white and took the frame to my favorite upholstery shop.

I found the luscious silver cotton velvet at SAS fabric for $5.00 a yard. I think the chair will look lovely against the lavender walls.


Have a seat.

Have you had any good makeovers lately?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Secrets of the condo clubhouse

In my last post I talked about a condo clubhouse remodeling job that I recently completed. It was a huge space. Part of the remodel also included a large storage room, a second bathroom, as well as an office space that was not shown. The entire space was amazingly completed for less than $50,000 (all fees included). Given that the average home kitchen remodel runs $30,000 makes this feat even more amazing. So how was it done?

Time and Research.
They are your two biggest resource tools. You have to be patient and you have to work to find the best deal. The bathroom and kitchen cabinets were purchased for a ridiculously low price from Costco Home which is going out of business. Don't think for one minute that this was sub par material. They were top of the line cabinets. You can often find great cabinets very inexpensively at Habitat for Humanity thrift shops, Goodwill, Craiglist, Ebay and if they are discontinuing a style, the big box stores will discount deeply.



The biggest portion of the budget was spent on prepping and beautifying the space. One of my design "rules" is to never put a pretty band aid on a gaping wound. You need to begin with a clean fresh space to ensure that the end results will shine. The cost for the flooring, scraping the popcorn ceiling, cabinets, appliances, painting and lighting came out of the budget first. My best advice is to ask for a discount if you are buying a large amount of anything. You most often will get it.


The next biggest piece of the budget was furniture. Again, I selected furnishings that were well made and would hold up over a long period of time with extreme use. Because this is a commercial space all of the furniture and its upholstery had to meet U.S. flammability standards. It is costly to treat fabric to meet the standards and that is why the fabric is often more expensive. Since I was buying numerous pieces I asked for and received discounts on my purchases. In addition, I waited until Memorial Day weekend to order the furniture. Stores typically run sales and specials during holidays. By waiting, I received additional bonuses such as deeper discounts and free delivery. Timing is everything!


Resusing existing pieces. How I differ from some other designers is that I will reuse existing pieces if they are in good condition (or can be salvaged) and will work well in the space. This of course often results in the piece getting a makeover via paint, upholstery or just thinking outside the box and coming up with a new way to use it.

Case in point: The artwork that I found originally in the clubhouse was all modern in feel. Many of the pieces were signed works.
Because the styling was timeless, the color palette worked and the paintings themselves were in good condition it made sense to use the art in the new space thereby saving us a substantial bit of money.
We also saved money by repainting the glass table bases.


With all the key elements in place we were left with a $200 budget for accessories~ for a 4,000 square foot space. Yeah, I know! Even Homegoods isn't even that good. This was going to take some really creative thinking. My associate Arlynn found this vase at a garage sale for 25 cents. It came with a few flowering branches. But there was one problem with the bottom of the vase.


I took a piece of 35 cent felt and glued it to the bottom.



I then added a small piece of foam to the inside and added a few twigs to the yellow branches which resulted in a pretty arrangement that cost less than $1.00.





As with all redesigns, when I am getting inexpensively creative I always ask the homeowner or in this case, the board of directors, if they are ok if the space is decorated with flea market finds and such. Some people are not sure until they see the end result. I understand as they want to make sure it looks good. But seeing is always believing.


Here is an example of two metal plant holders that were found in a box at a garage sale. Price? Free. I peeled off the bottom labels then sanded and cleaned the surfaces. It didn't really matter what my base coat was since I was just trying to bring them into the same color family. I took a can of burgundy spray paint that I had on hand and thought I would never use. But, it was perfect for this job. I finished the last coat with a lovely metallic bronze and no one was the wiser.



These topiaries were also in a free box. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Yep, we just need a hot glue gun and some moss.


The end result? A pretty centerpiece that only looks expensive.



Not everything was found at a garage sale. Many of the decorative items came from the clearance section at Homegoods, Marshalls, TJ Maxx and a few local haunts. Now, if this was a carte blanche design I probably wouldn't have pared the Bach bust with the poppies, but for this budget it works.

The end result was even more spectacular in person. The open house for the space was very well attended. I was asked repeatedly how we stayed within budget and I responded honestly. This often led to second looks and amazement, which in turn was followed by three more design jobs.
Praises to Him from which all blessings flow.
Have a blessed weekend!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Condo clubhouse remodel

I would like to take a moment to thank everyone who left such supportive comments and emails regarding the last post. The love and support found in the blogging community is just magnificent.

I've been teasing you for three months with hints of the clubhouse condo I have been remodeling. Guess what? It's done! Yippppeeee~ I worked with two great gals: Mary Wild was the general contractor and Arlynn Satz (seated) was my partner on this huge job. We almost had to much fun.


In a previous post I had written about the color scheme I had selected. Here are the complete "before and after" photo's. I am hoping you will be able to tell the difference. :)

The Entry:


We reused the glass tables by painting them a metallic bronze which unfortunately does not show up in the photo's.



Bye bye smoky mirrors...



Hello fresh color!


All the wood headers were dark, dated and overbearing.



Look at what simply painting them to match the trim did! They are barely noticeable now.



Another sitting room.




Now a workout room.




So dark and dingy!



A much better use of the space.




The mini kitchen area.



I would actually use this space now.



All of the dated appliances were on their last legs.



The useless hood was replaced with a microwave.



The Main Room



The existing artwork was reused since the signed modern pieces still looked fresh 30 years later.



All the popcorn ceilings were scrapped bare and the wood "beams" taken down.



Bright and fresh!


In this job no walls were knocked down yet it seems like a brand new space. The dark and stained carpeting was replaced with easy care tile.



By selecting a sunny wall color the space is now filled with light.



Ewww! Worse than some gas station facilities.


Clean and spa like.


Amazingly, even with all the obstacles that this job presented it came in a bit under budget. Later this week I will share how this look was achieved for less.

Friday, August 21, 2009

What a girl leaves behind

I struggle a bit bringing the three paint cans into the now empty space. They are filled to the brim with Rhapsody Lilac. I wonder for a moment if I have selected this shade as much for the name as the color. A melodious song of aromatic sweetness~ yes~ that is what I want in my life right now. A fourth can contains “Marshmallow”, a slightly pinkish cream that will cover the inside of the closet and all of the trim. She liked the sound of that color. It seems fitting that it grace a small part of the place where she has spent the last four years of her life. I know what I am doing. I am trying to cover my pain under layers of paint. If I just stay busy enough I will not have to think about the fact that she is gone. Technically she is only 23.4 miles away in her own little adorable apartment. But she no longer lives here.

I begin to do a sweep of the room. I remove the nail that held her huge Audrey Hepburn picture. I spackle the holes created by the brackets that held her curtain rod. Blue, green and white striped drapes used to gently glide along the silver tube, clicking slightly when they reached the center. I turn and glance up to the niche above the closet. A few items remain. I need the tall ladder and a second pair of hands to help me lower what hides behind a dusty sheet. I remove the sheet and take it directly to the washer. I return to the room and now cannot ignore what was hidden beneath the sheet. In the middle of the carpet sits a dollhouse with grey clapboard siding and a shingled roof. I squat down and peer through the window next to the front door. I lightly tap the brass door knocker against the pale rose door. It would seem that no one is at home. A wash of melancholy comes over me. Her brother comes in at that moment. “Wow Mom, a small house. Is it yours?” I smile at a memory. She has just turned five and is walking upstairs with her best friend. I am downstairs in the kitchen. Her voice carries down to me. “Come upstairs and see the new dollhouse I got for my birthday. My mom has been working on it all winter. It has wood floors, wallpaper and even electricity. My mom says it’s my house, but I think it is hers and she is just nice enough to let me play with it.”




I slide the closet doors open. On the floor sits a Barbie case topped by a HCHS cheer leading trophy. This is fitting since I am sure that Barbie was somewhat responsible in her decision to try out for the cheer leading squad. Right above it, swaying ever so slightly, is her graduation gown. The yellow satin honor society sash sits slightly off center and as I straighten it I wonder why it should matter. My eyes move to the upper shelves. I spy a small navy chest and my heart catches in my throat. I have to stop for awhile. I come back and gingerly set the chest down on the floor. I know what it contains… her whole childhood. I unlatch the brass lock and slowly push the trunk open. Samantha’s blue eyes are shining and my sad smile is no match to her bright happy grin. An apron and one velvet shoe are missing from her ensemble. I begin to dig through the chest seeking… Along the way I find the green velvet Christmas dress that technically belonged to Molly but was to pretty not to share. There is also Felicity’s Colonial ball gown which was a much coveted and cherished birthday gift. Each outfit brings to mind the special occasion that it marked. It is almost too much for me to bear. Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was wrapping up the wee saddle shoes that celebrated her being asked to the sixth grade sock hop? I close the lid and enter the closet. I slide slowly down the back wall and shut the doors in front of me to create a small marshmallow cocoon of sorts. I know that these are the things a girl must leave behind on her journey to become a woman. Yet there is one thing that remains here that I wish I could just box up and drop off at the Goodwill. It is her mother’s broken heart.