One Room Challenge: Week Four — Karma Police

Welcome back for week four of the One Room Challenge, aka the madcap race to completely transform a room in six short weeks. [You can catch up on previous weeks HERE.] Ok, I’m not going to mince words… week four hurts. It is rough like a cheese grater on your soft and vulnerable pinky knuckles. It is the point where fantasizing and planning meet the cold hard slap of reality. In a dystopian turn, I inevitably come to loathe every idea that previously seemed like a bright and shining beacon of awesomeness because I am my own worst client. Deep breaths. Let’s do this.

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Last week my wonder husband who still loves me but doesn’t like me anymore dropped in an overhead light so that we could see. If you are wondering why we didn’t go with sconces, it’s because the space felt too narrow and I didn’t care for the idea of sconces on opposing walls. Now I thought the gift of vision would be a major improvement, but like many things the room looked better in the dark. I see cellulite. Everywhere. Adding insult to injury, I had to match the ceiling texture to the rest of the lumpy bumpy ugliness. I also textured my hair in the process. Kinda feels like dry shampoo.

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I decided to paint out the ceiling and wood work in Black Beauty. I had this on a wall at our old house, and it’s warm and dramatic. Just like me. Sadly you can still see orange peel in the raking window light, but at least the extractor fan looks skinnier in black. And even though my paint job reminds me of putting on eyeliner with two kids grabbing at my legs (erryday), I do think the black moldings are a vast improvement. Sanders my magical amazing incredible paint guy made me try the new Benjamin Moore Grand Entrance enamel paint and I LOVE IT — goes on like pudding and hides pesky brush marks. Delicious.

So that’s the end of the good stuff. The bad stuff goes a little something like this: the more time I spent in that room, the more I felt the beadboard from the original design had to get out of my life. It was too many elements for this tiny space — too many stain/paint/weird transitions. And that meant I had to make a life decision about the wallpaper I oh so optimistically purchased two years ago.

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Long ago I planned for this beatific wallpaper trifecta, for which I was sure I deserved an award. The middle paper was installed in the foyer years ago. I grew afeared of a long term relationship with the color in the wallpaper on the left. But I still loved the Little Greene wallpaper on the right and thought it would be right at home in the powder room. Except that this paper is very… absorbent. We have two little boys. It’s a very real problem that affects my design decisions. The beadboard would have repelled moisture, but without it I was at a loss.

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I decided I should get new wallpaper. Is there anything, ANYTHING more of a true Design Crisis than choosing wallpaper? It’s like holding a mirror to your very soul and looking into the blackest depths. It’s like getting married… but more expensive.

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I had a serious case of Goldilocks and the Three Bears going on. Nothing was working. Cole and Son Nuvolette would have been my top choice but the pattern didn’t resolve in such a small space.

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Then I started to get really picky about print quality… I’m just not loving the vast majority of digitally printed papers. Honestly, as a photographer I was surprised at the resolution on some of these. I realized I pretty much only go for screened or gravure printed papers because apparently I like to look at my wallpaper with a microscope.

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Then I was tripping on the pattern repeats. A lot of patterns look good on a little square but have obvious weird repeats when you see them installed on unbroken walls. I tend to gravitate towards large carefully hidden repeats or small textural papers, probably because I used to count the flower people and creepy alligator men in the wallpaper of my childhood bedroom. We’ll discuss that some other time.

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Finally, the expense factor got super scary. I am obsessed with some of these papers, but wow. When wallpaper is priced by the square foot, I get spooked and file it away for my brave and well heeled clients. At one point I was calculating literally thousands of dollars in paper alone for that one tiny toilet room, and I just had to step back.

Let’s not forget that the whole reason I started searching for new wallpaper was this:

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This guy had been sitting in the cat’s food-filled water bowl, then he ran with his catfood stew pajamas across the house and all over my wallpaper samples.

The criteria became clearer. Durable, inexpensive, awesome. I decided to go with a non woven for the durability factor. And then I decided to go with this for the awesome and inexpensive factor:

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Designer’s Guild’s Bain de Minuit in zinc. Ike approved.

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I was the decider! I felt good! I was pumped! I ordered four rolls and steeled myself for the award I thought I deserved a few years ago but definitely deserved now.

And then I saw that Holly from The English Room had chosen the same paper for her design. And then I freaked out.

Basically I had looked into my soul and found… someone else’s soul. Even worse, someone might think I was trying to steal their soul.

I felt terribly guilty and ashamed — about what I am not sure, but it doesn’t really matter because I am the guiltiest person in the world. I should immediately start wearing hairshirts and flagellate myself with glass studded whips just for fun. I was sure Holly would think I was a jerk, but she didn’t even bat an eyelash because she has better things to do than to worry about what other people are doing.

Meanwhile I feel like I am constantly worrying about what other people are doing — worrying like it’s my job. And partly it is. I am supposed to be up on design trends — what’s coming in the future, and most certainly what’s been done. People pay me for this. And yet it really is a vicious cycle, made even more cruel by the speed of the internet. One trend must die in order to sell sell sell a new one. We are all scurrying to get ahead of the curve, and for me that often means zagging where others are zigging. It’s juvenile and contrarian, frankly. And I’m not sure it does me any lasting favors, but it is turning me into a crazy(er) person.

I like this wallpaper. It’s awesome and soon it will probably be in every house in the world, much like the infamous Woods wallpaper. But that’s ok. I had that wallpaper too, and I loved it. So friends, the afterschool special lesson of the day is: if you like it, do it. And do not apologize for your choices. Unless you are me, and then you should apologize for everything.

Sorry about that!

There have got to be some people making good progress this week. Go find them! Check back next week to see if I actually hung this paper. Or that paper. Or some other paper.

Abby M. Interiors

Because it’s Awesome

Bijou & Boheme

Calling It Home

Chez V

Chinoiserie Chic

Copy Cat Chic

The Decorista

Design Crisis

Design Indulgence

Design Manifest

The English Room

The Glam Pad

Little Black Door

Mimosa Lane

My Notting Hill

The Pink Pagoda

Simple Details

My Sweet Savannah

Verandah House

 

One Room Challenge: Week Three — Fables of the Reconstruction

Hello friends! Welcome back to the One Room Challenge, the crazy internet wide scramble to completely redecorate one room in six weeks. [Catch up on previous posts HERE.] I am struggling to wrap my head around the fact that we’re now halfway through and I don’t even have a mirror or lighting picked out… I’m feeling a bit like Aesop’s hare here. We made super headway super fast, but now I’m super tired. At any moment I might lie down and twiddle some buckwheat whilst taunting tortoises with better project management skills than mine, but first we need to congratulate me on my hotdogging DIY skillz. At least the hare is flashy, right?

erin williamson | design crisis

As you may recall I started out with a nuclear orange vanity of indeterminate but undeniably bad design. Well, I upgraded those sleazy doors for some fresh and clean oak shaker numbers from Barker Cabinets. I’ll admit that I spent more than a few hours caressing them, getting to know every inch of virgin woodgrain. It was hard to slap on that first coat of stain. But after sanding them smooth with 150 grit paper, I screwed up my nerves and brushed on the Speedball india ink.

Yep. Speedball. India. Ink.

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Black as night, this stuff is. It makes regular “black” stain look like weak coffee, but if you try this for yourself please learn from my trials and four letter word filled tribulations: do not buy the acrylic ink (on left). The one on the right is what you want (PS, thanks for making the labels look so easy to differentiate, Speedball). It is waterproof and contains shellac, which is a sanding sealer so it doesn’t raise the grain like the acrylic stuff. Also it flows ever so much more nicely and doesn’t build up in tacky layers.

Can you tell that I spent a zillion hours reading woodworking lumber jock forums before I started this project because I am a giant nerd?

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Now I’m a dirty nerd in need of a manicure.

After permanently dyeing my skin black in the process of brushing on two coats of ink, I finished with Osmo polyx oil.

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I kind of refused to hermetically seal my hard earned woodgrain with polyurethane, so I spent another brazillion hours researching finishing options before settling on a hybrid hard wax. This stuff is totally food safe and eco friendly, plus is it easy to apply — wax on and wax off Ralph Macchio style. Repeat 8 hours later — crane kick optional but not required. Voila! Delicious juicy woodgrain with a touchable oiled finish.

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All that stripping, sanding, and staining, sublimated into one grace note of beauty. I hear angels singing and rainbows weeping with envy.

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Rather than painting the cabinets black, I used this process as a test for our future kitchen remodel that will probably maybe never happen someday. I don’t mind the idea of painted cabinets, but I do worry about chipping and the difficulty of touch ups — especially with Wrecker and Bruiser around to hasten the demise of any fragile finish. This can be touched up and repaired with relative ease, plus I really like the ebonized look.

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Now whether this stuff will stand up to dribbled toothpaste and marathon boat parties hosted by our as of yet uninstalled sink, I do not know. This guy wants to remind me not to get too high and mighty on my champion DIY skills.

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He would also like to know if yogurt from the trash tastes as good as yogurt from the fridge.

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Because I said no I am not allowed to bask in the glory of my success.

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Unless I leave to forage for fresh yogurt, in which case I should come back. Now.

It’s a wonder that anything gets done around here. But you may have noticed we managed to drop in an overhead light, positioned above the sink.

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Hilariously/not hilariously it is located exactly where an overhead light used to exist before the previous owners installed that hideous vanity light. We pretty much went back to the future. Or… something. Time travel confuses me.

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Light is helpful when you have to spackle and sand at pitch dark o’clock, which also happens to be renovation celebration o’clock. I like ice with my whine. Don’t judge.

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To top off my winning streak, counters have been ordered and will be installed shortly. Ike picked them out — or so he thinks. He also picked out the gargantuan face bandage which is covering precisely nothing. That’s gonna hurt when it comes off, kid.

To summarize: I am basically king of the world, a super-ish parent with the very best that trash cans and stone yards have to offer, possibly the most talented DIY’er ever, and definitely a designer in charge of her own destiny.

Except that I had a hyperventilating panic attack and ordered totally DIFFERENT WALLPAPER. Bad hare, baaaad hare. From winning the race to cowering under a rock with my face in the dirt. Self saboteur in the extreme.

Goodbye beadboard, hello new wipeable wallpaper. We will discuss this ad infinitum next week. For now, just know how the mighty have fallen. I am in trouble.

Until then, please do see how my fellow participants are faring in their own race against time. Only three more weeks left to go!

Abby M. Interiors

Because it’s Awesome

Bijou & Boheme

Calling It Home

Chez V

Chinoiserie Chic

Copy Cat Chic

The Decorista

Design Crisis

Design Indulgence

Design Manifest

The English Room

The Glam Pad

Little Black Door

Mimosa Lane

My Notting Hill

The Pink Pagoda

Simple Details

My Sweet Savannah

Verandah House

One Room Challenge: Week Two — The Case For Uxoricide

Hello and welcome back for the next installment in the One Room Challenge! Last week I laid the foundation for what should be a grueling but fairly straight forward renovation of our puny powder room. This week the husband and I began demolition of the truly heinous and downright criminal renovations wrought by previous owners, and I am having the distinct feeling that this endeavor might result in bodily injury. To me.

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Before you decide that Colonel Mustard did it in the bathroom with a hammer, let’s start at the beginning of the end.

The very day I accepted this challenge, I promised my loving husband that I would hire out every single job. That we would not spend weekends and evenings painting and fretting and hanging and rehanging art like last time. Then I couldn’t find a single contractor willing to come out and even look at such a small job. Then the threat of public humiliation and impending failure whipped me into a stress filled frenzy… and then Ben caved. Because I am nice, and I make a delicious pan seared halibut, and also because I birthed his two adorable babies, he really couldn’t say no to my plea for help.

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Which is not to say that he was happy about it.

When he started in on the Jasco paint stripper (a toxic gel with low floral notes reminiscent of Mad Dog 20/20) and I came in to document the process, the eye rolling commenced. With every scrape of shriveled polyurethane I felt his “enthusiasm” for the project dissipating, the influence of my trump card waning. I’m pretty sure he was scraping our love away.

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Oh yes. For the moment, let’s put aside the probability of divorce (or worse) and talk about why it’s even necessary to strip and stain this vanity — why not just buy a new one? Please see the diagram above for evidence of an ugly but useful sewer cleanout that runs to the kitchen and laundry room. Unfortunately keeping it meant that we couldn’t do a swanky wall mount or pedestal sink, which is ok because obviously we need concealed storage to house a phalanx of plastic toilets and pee stained training seats. Boys and their toys, you know.

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Toys like a long piece of piano wire, perfect for strangling the mirror off the wall. Hot tip #1: Goo Gone + sawing softened adhesive with a wire = no more nasty mirror. Hot tip #2: Don’t embarrass your husband with a camera when he is holding a weapon.

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This wall is oozing with the kind of misery that comes from sobbing behind an ugly builder grade mirror for over a decade. I wish I could say I see instant improvement here. Instead our powder room is looking more and more like an abattoir.

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The tiled in baseboards have been gutted. Perfect for fluid run off.

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The sink is gone, the lighting is gone, scary murder gloves are not gone.

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Basically it’s like a jail cell up in here.

I am hoping I didn’t use all my lady chits for nothing… it is terrifying to consider that Ben might hate me AND that I must suffer the ignominy of a hideous bathroom.

Honestly, he is an angel sent down from the heavens above to serve me. That didn’t come out quite right, but I am so very very very grateful for his help and hopefully when he reads these words he will decide not to kill me.

Also, next week I get my own hands dirty with sanding and staining and patching and painting. I stole my cabinet finishing idea from these guys and their amazing floors:

india ink floors

Perhaps Ben will at least let me stick around long enough to put this hot mess back together. And maybe to cook him a hot dinner. And other hot… things. I’m not ashamed to say that I will use every tool in my arsenal to survive.

My charms are limited. Call 911 if no one’s here next Wednesday morning.

Until then, please do visit my fellow challengers. What a lineup!

Abby M. Interiors

Because it’s Awesome

Bijou & Boheme

Calling It Home

Chez V

Chinoiserie Chic

Copy Cat Chic

The Decorista

Design Crisis

Design Indulgence

Design Manifest

The English Room

The Glam Pad

Little Black Door

Mimosa Lane

My Notting Hill

The Pink Pagoda

Simple Details

My Sweet Savannah

Verandah House

One Room Challenge: Week One — Brobdingnagian Plans for a Lilliputian Powder Room

Hello! Welcome to the One Room Challenge, wherein I and several talented cohorts strive to completely redesign a space in six short weeks.

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Obviously I am insane for doing this… like, hallucinating through space and time insane, because the last ORC nearly wrecked me. In fact, when I asked my husband what he thought about committing to the challenge again, I swear a tiny tear rolled down his beautiful cheek. I wiped it away and replied YES! to the challenge. Turns out I am a sadist and a masochist. I call that multitalented.

Last time I transformed our dinky dinette into a blazing gloryland of color and brass and quirky thrift finds. This time, I asked myself how I could make the challenge easier on myself — perhaps by choosing an even smaller room? Behold. The world’s tiniest, ugliest powder room:

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Dontcha wish your bathroom was hot like mine? Dontcha? Dontcha?

I won’t sugarcoat it. This bathroom is a travesty against humankind. It makes babies cry, and even sensitive adults run screaming for cover.

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The atomic orange vanity is horrifying. I simply cannot imagine a world where these cabinets should exist. And yet, they are ALL OVER OUR HOUSE. In every room with cabinets. All the same. All  tiger striped orange with overly complicated paneling and a polyrurethane coating so stubborn it makes my four year old look like a model of cooperation.

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This is far less offensive, but still belongs in a trailer and I don’t mean one of those cute hipster Airstreams.

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The faucet and cultured marble counters (with integrated sink! bonus!) are also not 100% hideous, but they still scream cheap 13 year old remodel. And indeed that is what this bathroom is suffering from.

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Bad tasteitis. Someone spent money and time redoing a bathroom and THIS is what they chose. Just thinking about it is giving my wallet a seizure.

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Who thought tile baseboards were a good idea? Perhaps they planned to slaughter goats in here?

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And that glued on $10 mirror is killing me for so many reasons. 1) it is hideous and will be difficult to remove because it’s glued to the freaking wall. 2) I can’t take a picture in here without seeing myself and I don’t like that. In fact, whilst shooting this room I became very self conscious and I really hate mirrors and can’t wait to destroy this soul sucking waste of silica.

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Hey look! There’s a toilet in here, because it’s a bathroom. At least there is a window and natural light. I think I can do something with this space.

So. On to the plan:

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Did I say that I was making this challenge easier on myself by choosing a smaller room? I lied. There is a lot of construction involved and my long suffering husband and I will be doing much of  it ourselves, because we are poor and also because you simply cannot get a decent contractor out to any site in Austin for a job this small. It is insane here.

I plan to rip out the mirror, counters, and tile baseboard. I do very much wish we could rip ALL the floors out, but we’re not sure what the future holds for the floors in contiguous rooms so it has to stay for now. Meanwhile, the vanity will get fresh doors and a strip and stain job. New counters are going in, along with an updated faucet and lighting, oh and beadboard…

Beadboard might be the death of me. You see, I bought that Little Greene wallpaper two years ago for this very room but never put it up because we started potty training Ike soon after. And if you don’t have a little boy, let me tell you that potty training is like trying to control a firehose. Full of pee. A pee hose that sprays everywhere. This here wallpaper is pulp based and therefore absorbent, hence the addition of beadboard which is not absorbent. I hope. Because Luke is due for potty training in the coming year and I do not enjoy the scent of morning urine.

So that is the plan. Stay tuned to see if my husband spackles my nose and mouth shut in an attempt to asphyxiate me, or if… you know. I change my mind or something. I’ve been known to do that.

Please do say hi to my fellow challengees, and especially Linda of Calling it Home who organized this whole dang shebang — it’s quite the lineup this year and I’m feeling extra super ridiculous intimidated by the talent. Until next week!

Abby M. Interiors

Because it’s Awesome

Bijou & Boheme

Calling It Home

Chez V

Chinoiserie Chic

Copy Cat Chic

The Decorista

Design Crisis

Design Indulgence

Design Manifest

The English Room

The Glam Pad

Little Black Door

Mimosa Lane

My Notting Hill

The Pink Pagoda

Simple Details

My Sweet Savannah

Verandah House

It’s Such a Perfect Day

After weeks of pontificating, I decided maybe I should post something personal instead of just telling everyone what to do. Problem is, I’m so good at being the boss… of other people. When it comes to my own life, I feel messy and disorganized and indecisive. Case in point: I’ve been planning to present an updated home tour for months now, but realistically my house is only clean for one hour after the housekeeper leaves. And in that one hour I just want to sit down, knock back a martini, and bask in the zen of an orderly life. Ok, it may be more like two martinis and 15 minutes but you get the idea.

I’ve realized that it’s never going to be perfect around here and it is what it is… so have a look around. Just try not to delete me from your blog feed. Or fire me.

austin interior designer

Every (bleary) morning when I wake up in this room I think about how I need to take pictures. But I never make the bed, and there is still a baby bassinet in the corner where I change Luke’s diapers, and the window seat always has a laundry basket full of clean clothes that need to be put away.

ERIN WILLIAMSON | DESIGN CRISIS

There is usually a pile of paintings around here. This giant 52″ tall lady just came home with me. I imagine her in a smoky plum room with lots of walnut and gold and black Italian lighting. Who’s with me?

ERIN WILLIAMSON | DESIGN CRISIS

I can’t believe the boys haven’t broken my heads yet… it’s only a matter of time.

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73 degrees! Springtime in Austin (all three days of it) is magical.

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Zombie cat confuses Luke, who often pets and meows at her. She does a good job of covering my wacked out wallpapered outlet so we’ll keep her.

ERIN WILLIAMSON | DESIGN CRISIS

The teal room is the repository of all my treasured possessions. I remember playing with this at my grandmother’s house when I was Ike’s age.

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My aforementioned grandparents. My mother drew these portraits decades ago and my brother and I are sharing joint custody of them. I hope he knows how much I love him for sharing.

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It’s also feeling rather hunt clubby in the teal room. Streaky glass adds that extra special touch that really says home.

ERIN WILLIAMSON | DESIGN CRISIS

 I caught a fair amount of flak for repainting my one room challenge dinette, but I really like the new art and wall color combo. It’s still WAY peppy, but it’s livable. The dining area is visible from much of the house so that’s kind of important. I want to live.

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Oh, Ike. Next year he starts kindergarten and while part of me has been looking forward to having a few free minutes to myself, most of me is preparing for the blubbery sobfest that is sure to take place on the first day of school. I’m going to miss my little cowpoke.

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Aaaaaaand this is what the living room looks like at the end of a long day spent juggling kids and work and cooking and obviously not cleaning. It hurts me to post this, but I believe in honesty. I didn’t try to dress this up (hahaha). I didn’t even turn off the gross recessed lighting. This depresses me in so many ways… I hate messes for one thing. I also spend so much time making other people’s spaces look good that I wonder why I can’t just snap my fingers and make it happen for myself.

Sure, budget is one reason. I gots to get some new seating, and that will be quite expensive.

Indecision is another reason. Do I want a black leather sofa? Or maybe something in a slipcovered fabric? Sectional or sofa and chairs? I debate the pros and cons of these choices (and their budgetary repercussions) endlessly as I stare out across the sea of toys.

Kids are probably the biggest reason. What I have now is virtually kid proof, and it’s old so I won’t be (too) angry if they destroy it. Also I am busy. And tired.

And incredibly grateful. I’m so grateful to be busy and tired in a room full of busted up chex mix and noisy plastic toys, working on amazing projects with my two little helpers in tow. I couldn’t ask for anything more, and I never want it to end.

So for now I will probably keep things this way, messes and all.

One Room Challenge — Where are They Now? My Crazy Dinette

True to form, I am continuing my headless chicken routine by linking up late to the ORC party. It’s a wonder anything gets done around here, what with 70 rounds of the flu and a work load that just won’t quit (thankful for that part, not thankful for the flu). But I really wanted to tell you about what happened with my dinette. When last you saw it at the ORC reveal, the walls were screaming acid green and the vibe was OTT:

arsenic austin designer

Not to toot my own horn, but in the photos it looks money. Solid gold. I know my strengths, and I’m good at dressing a set — which is exactly what this room is for me. It’s my little corner of the world where I can experiment and run wild. It’s small and easy to repaint, which is handy because that color got on my nerves. For real.

arsenic austin interiors

In the daytime it was ok, but at night it felt like I was locked in an insane asylum on the moon. It was SO BRIGHT and the room is so small… it was intense.

Add that to the fact that Bungalow Magazine asked to shoot my house right after the ORC ended and I panicked. As a self contained room this space worked, but when viewed in the context of the rest of my house it felt unbalanced.

So I did what I do. I repainted that shizz. Sanders helped me pick the color, of course — Benjamin Moore Antique Glass.

bungalow buff strickland

And here’s the photo Bungalow took. They made the room all dark and moody like, but you can see that the color is in the same vein but far less intense. I also swapped out the art with a vintage Round Top find and I think the whole thing is a vast improvement, although maybe not as bling bling exciting as the ORC reveal shots.

It’s real world successful. My family can eat in here without sunglasses.

Next up for this room: figure out the horrible soffit situation. It can’t be removed. Molding maybe?

Then I will probably repaint or wallpaper or get a new table and chairs or something. I can’t leave well enough alone, you know. Designer problems!

***

I’m linking up to Linda’s ORC Now party.  To check out updates on all the ORC projects, please check out Calling It Home.

 

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